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The deadly dangers of jackknifing

At the Law Office of Roland R. Esparza, PC, in Texas, we know how unnerving it can be to share the road, highway or freeway with 18-wheelers. They are so much larger and heavier than your passenger vehicle that you know you and your passengers are at great risk of serious injury or death should you crash into one that jackknifes right in front of you.

As explained by Evan Transportation, Inc., a jackknife is a trucking accident that its driver fears every bit as much as you do. It means that his or her cab and trailer are folding in on each other and (s)he is sure to lose control of the mammoth vehicle.

Jackknife description

The word “jackknife” comes from the angle at which a pocket knife closes. As its blade gets ever closer to the slot in its handle, the angle becomes more and more acute. Finally the blade virtually disappears within its handle. Obviously this analogy goes only so far when it comes to tractor-trailers. Their cabs have no slot into which their trailer can disappear. Rather, the trailer hits the side of the cab full force and may injure or kill the driver. In addition, assuming the truck has not already rolled over, it now is sliding down the road or an embankment sideways with its wheels going in several directions at once.

Jackknife cause

All of this is exceedingly dangerous to the driver and the occupants of any other vehicles that are unfortunate enough to be in reasonable proximity to the out-of-control truck. No one knows exactly how any given truck will behave if and when it starts to jackknife. What is known, however, is how a jackknife usually begins. It happens when the driver over-accelerates while turning or negotiating a curve. The trailer wheels have insufficient traction to properly grip the road surface and start to slide straight ahead rather than following the cab.

The best way to protect yourself from a jackknifing truck is to be extra vigilant when approaching one from behind, especially if you are nearing a curve, a downward grade, or the road is wet, snowy, icy or in any other way hazardous. Never pass a tractor-trailer on a curve if there is any way to prevent it.

For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website.

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