A vehicle made up of a cab and one or more trailers can be referred to as a large truck, 18-wheeler, big rig or tractor trailer. These vehicles are found on roads all across the nation and play an important role in carrying various types of goods. However, their unique characteristics make them prone to certain kinds of accidents that wouldn’t happen with other vehicles, such as cars and vans. Jackknife accidents are one example. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute defines this type of accident as the skidding of a hitched vehicle during which the trailer rotates to such a point where the cab is rotated against the trailer in a way that reminds one of how a jackknife closes.
What Can Cause a Jackknife Accident?
There are many potential causes for this type of truck accident. They include:
Excessive speed – Speeding, especially in unfavorable road conditions can make jackknifing more likely.
Driver error – Even highly experienced truckers can make mistakes that can lead to a jackknife accident, such as applying the brakes while swerving.
Locked truck axle – With improperly designed truck brakes, axles on the trailer may lock sooner than those on the tractor, leading to jackknifing in certain circumstances.
Sudden braking – Due to their large weight, tractor trailers are especially prone to accidents if the brakes are slammed on suddenly. Jackknifing, skidding or rollovers have all been seen in this scenario.
Improper brake adjustment – Even if a trailer is empty, brakes that aren’t correctly adjusted by the operator of the truck can lead to a jackknife accident.
Jackknife accidents can sometimes be unpredictable and happen quickly. Even when a driver realizes that jackknifing is imminent, there is often little he can do to avoid it. This may lead to serious and potentially deadly accidents for both truck drivers and anyone else on the road. A big truck that jackknifes may also spill its load, which can cause serious hazards for other highway users, as their vehicles may be hit by the contents or they can lose control as they try to avoid the spilled load.
Statistics About Large Truck Accidents
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 368,000 traffic crashes involving large trucks, with 4,500 of them causing fatalities. 77,000 injuries were reported in truck drivers and other motorists. A FMCSA report shows that in 5% of truck accidents where the actions of the driver caused the crash, a jackknifing occurred.
If such an accident happens, investigations must be carried out right away so that all relevant evidence is available when assessing the cause.
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If you or a loved one have suffered injury as a result of a jackknife accident, consulting a lawyer helps protect your legal rights. Experienced attorneys specializing in truck accident cases are able to assist with filing a claim and seeking compensation from those responsible.
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