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What Leads to Jackknifing?

Cranwell & Moore P.L.C. July 5, 2018

When a semi-truck takes a turn too fast and goes into a skid in Virginia, it could cause the trailer to turn at an angle to the front of the truck, leading to what is called a jackknife accident. The term “jackknife” hails from the knife with a folding blade that forms an angle with its handle. A jackknife trucking accident can force your truck to roll over, potentially damaging other cars around it and hurting you and other drivers. 

Jackknifing usually occurs when the wheels of your trailer are not able to stay in line with the wheels in front. This can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Slippery roads

  • Taking a curve too fast

  • Equipment malfunction

  • Underweight loads

  • Locked drive axles

There are a few things you can do to avoid ending up in a jackknife situation. Make sure your trailer’s load is heavy enough to stabilize the rig. Avoid driving with an empty trailer, as your brakes are meant to stop a heavy weight. Slamming on the brakes with an empty trailer could lead to a jackknife accident. In that respect, try not to slam on the brakes at all. Give yourself plenty of room between your truck and the car in front of you. Slow down when approaching a curve, and hit the brakes before you turn. Downhill turns should be taken even more slowly, especially if you are driving in wet conditions. Make consistent visits to a mechanic to ensure your rig stays in pristine condition. Keeping your equipment in working order is key.

This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.