What does it mean when a large truck jackknifes?

Jackknifing, which is a major risk for all tractor-trailer drivers, occurs when a truck and the trailer it is hauling falls out of sync with one another. When this happens, the tractor and its trailer create a V or an L shape. The term itself came about because of the resemblance a jackknife has to a knife when its blade folds into the handle.

Jackknifing is very dangerous because it means the entire vehicle is out of control and a truck accident of some kind will likely occur. Sometimes these accidents do not involve another vehicle, but if the jackknife happens in traffic, it is quite possible smaller vehicles will be involved. Jackknifing's main cause is a loss of traction, which means that the vehicle's wheels lose their ability to grip the road.

Any kind of motor vehicle accident can result in catastrophic injuries, but large, heavy commercial trucks that jackknife can be especially dangerous. In the United States, tractor-trailers may weigh in excess of 40 tons and can be up to 80 feet in length. In a collision between a small car and a tractor-trailer, the truck will almost always win in terms of damage and injury potential.

In the mind of a truck driver, a jackknife situation is among the worst-case scenarios he or she might experience on the road. As such, it is safe to assume these drivers do everything possible to avoid them. However, they do still happen, which is why you and other Oklahoma motorists should always remain on alert when sharing the roadways with large commercial vehicles.

In the event you do become involved in a truck accident caused by jackknifing or other circumstances, a personal injury lawyer can offer you assistance. With legal guidance, you can seek compensation to help you recover financially and physically.

Source: How Stuff Works - Auto, "How to Avoid Jackknifing," Jane McGrath, accessed Aug. 23, 2016

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