Jackknifing Trucks Pose Danger to Everyone on Roadways

A jackknifing 18-wheeler truck poses significant danger to not only the truck driver but to anyone sharing the road. It is essential for drivers to take safety measures to avoid disastrous results. It is also important for operators of passenger vehicles to take extra precautions when driving near tractor-trailers. Briefly, a semi-truck jackknifing accident occurs when a commercial truck driver loses control of the rig and the back of the trailer slides out from behind the truck forming an L or a V shape. In the process of rotating around the tractor, the trailer will extend into the adjacent lanes blocking traffic behind and/or in front of the semi. It may also push and/or crush any cars in its path. Drive Responsibly Around Large Trucks If a passenger vehicle is in the path of a jackknifing truck, it is likely the outcome will be catastrophic. A passenger car weighs about 3,000 pounds and is no match for tractor-trailers that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. The result of such an accident is likely to be serious injury or death to the people in the car. Drivers of passenger vehicles must take measures to keep themselves and their passengers’ safe when traveling near 18-wheelers. First, it is essential to recognize the disparity in stopping distances. Though a car traveling at 60 miles per hour can usually stop within about 200 feet, a semi truck requires at least 100 more feet. When changing lanes or making a turn in front of a large truck, drivers of smaller vehicles must be sure to leave enough space for a truck to slow down and/or stop. Further, drivers must refrain from traveling in the “No-Zones” of trucks where visibility is limited. These include the right and left rear quarters of the truck and directly behind the trailer. Driving Safely in Tractor-Trailers Truck drivers have a heightened responsibility to operate their big rigs safely, especially when smaller vehicles are nearby. It is essential for drivers to anticipate the actions of the drivers around them and leave substantial gaps as space cushions to slow or stop as needed. Further, truck drivers must also be alert to changing road and weather conditions and make adjustments as needed. Too often jackknifing trucks occur because a driver panics and locks up the brakes causing the tractor to go one way and the trailer another. Other causes of jackknife accidents include situations resulting from a loss of traction such as slick roads, high-crowned roads and curved roads. By increasing following distances and slowing down, truck drivers can prevent most jackknife accidents. If you are injured due to a jackknifing accident with an 18-wheeler, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Consult with an attorney experienced with trucking accident matters to discuss you legal rights and options.