Jackknifing refers to the situation where a trailer swings out to the side or next to the vehicle towing the trailer.  During a jackknife, the trailer may stretch across multiple lanes of traffic shutting down the highway and spanning a large area.  These trucking accidents have the potential to harm a lot of drivers on the road.  About 10% of all truck and automobile collisions are caused by jackknifes. {1}

 Causes of Jackknifes

In short, the primary cause of jackknifes is a loss off traction or the wheel grip on the road.  The typical causes of jackknifing are:

  • A highway crash can cause a jackknife accidents
  • Skidding on slippery roads
  • Locking of trailer brakes due to improper braking

Heavy load increase the amount of time and distance a truck needs to stop.  If a driver fails to take this into account, they may need to come to a hard stop locking up the trailer brakes.  Also, speeding gives the driver less time to safely react to traffic changes or debris in the road.  As a result, speeding drivers may be forced to lock the trailer brakes.  Locking the trailer brakes can cause the trailer to swing out sideways, or jackknife.  

Ways to Prevent Jackknife

Drivers should not only understand the cause of jackknifes, but they should also know how to prevent them.  Techniques to reduce the risk of jackknife include:

  • Load weight – a lighter load, is more likely to jackknife.  The driver should understand
    and account for driving with a lighter load.
  • Properly distribute load – the weight of the load should be evenly distributed throughout the trailer to help with braking.  Trailer brakes are designed for full loads.
  • Braking gradually to avoid hard braking or sudden stops.
  • Avoid braking during a turn, especially a downhill turn.  Downhill turns are especially
    prone to jackknifing.
  • Do not brake and swerve at the same time.

 Above all, trucks and trailers should be properly maintained.  A fully functional truck and trailer give a driver a leg up in safe driving.

Contact a Houston Truck Accident Attorney if you’ve been
hurt in Jackknife Accident

Trucking companies have the legal responsibility to have well-trained responsible drivers transport their cargo.  However, they may ignore this responsibility by hiring unsafe drivers or in failing to maintain the truck and trailer leading to jackknife accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jackknife accident, Chelsie King Garza can help.  Ms. Garza can conduct a full investigation to determine if negligence was involved and hold the responsible parties accountable.

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Chelsie King Garza

Licensed since 2000

Member at firm Chelsie King Garza, P.C.

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