What Causes a Jackknife Accident?

Jackknife accidents result in thousands of injuries and deaths each year in the United States. They occur when the trailer of a commercial vehicle swings perpendicular to the cab, forming a 90-degree angle. Other drivers may not have enough time to avoid hitting the trailer, and could become pinned underneath. Victims may suffer burns, lacerations, broken or fractured bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal hemorrhaging, soft tissue trauma, and other injuries.

The Most Common Causes of Jackknife Accidents Include:

  1. Poor Weather Conditions: Rain, snow, sleet, and wind can make it difficult for trucks to maintain traction on the road. Truck drivers must go slow and avoid making sudden turns or stops. Failure to exercise caution in unsafe weather could increase the risk of a jackknife accident.
  2. Reckless Driving Behaviors: Speeding, making unsafe lane changes, or stopping suddenly could lead to a jackknife accident. Truck drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road. This involves obeying all federal and state traffic laws and driving in a reasonably safe manner. Reckless or aggressive driving puts everyone on the road at risk for a crash. Truck drivers must avoid tailgating, speeding, turning too sharp, or weaving between lanes of traffic.
  3. Improperly-Loaded Cargo: Unbalanced, overloaded, or unsecured cargo could also cause a jackknife accident. Truck drivers must inspect their vehicles before and after each trip to ensure all cargo is properly secured. Failure to do so is a breach of federal trucking regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If the cargo is unbalanced or overloaded, it could shift the truck’s center of gravity, causing it to jackknife.
  4. Drowsy Driving: Truck drivers are on the road for many hours at a time. While they are required to take regular rest breaks, they may still experience drowsiness. Drowsy drivers may not be able to notice dangerous conditions on the road, and they may have slowed reaction times. This often leads to sudden braking that could cause a jackknife accident. Drivers must take regular rest breaks and get adequate sleep in order to drive in a reasonably safe manner.
  5. Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is also a main cause of jackknife accidents. Distractions include anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of driving. Truck drivers must avoid distractions at all costs and maintain a clear focus on the road. This can help prevent a devastating jackknife accident.

Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices provides aggressive representation to injured clients. Call our firm today at (718) 690-3132, and schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Brooklyn truck accident attorneys.

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