Avoiding Jackknife Truck Accidents

Driving to visit my wife’s family over the Christmas break was about a 6.5-hour journey into west Texas for me this year. As we were driving down one of the many highways that weave their way through farmlands and ranches west of Austin, we came across an 18-wheeler that had lost control, buckled into a V-shape, and, fortunately for everyone on the road that day, come to a stop.  It was blocking the highway significantly, but luckily no one was injured. This was the first time the two teenage drivers in my car had seen a jack-knife truck accident.

What is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Regal Oil Jackknife

Approaching view of jackknifed Regal Oil truck, the cab is buckled behind tanker out of view.

A jackknife truck accident occurs when a tractor trailer’s cab and the trailer it is attached to swings out at a 90-degree angle, making the shape of a “V” across traffic. The driver loses all control of the tractor-trailer as it buckles, making it impossible to steer. Jackknife truck accidents usually occur when the driver is forced to brake suddenly or when there is a malfunction of the brakes or axles.

The Dangers

According to the American Trucking Association, the year 2020 saw 3.97 million Class 8 trucks (a combination of tractor-trailers and straight trucks) on the roads. When you toss in inconsiderate drivers, weather conditions, driver fatigue, and all the other hazards drivers face, the odds are high that you will eventually come across one of these scary accidents.

For many reasons, jackknifed trucks are much more dangerous in an accident than regular vehicles. This type of truck wreck may involve:

  • A higher risk of a multi-vehicle collision or pileup across several lanes of traffic
  • A higher risk of severe or fatal injuries because of the size and weight of the tractor-trailer
  • The possibility of goods inside the trailer spilling across the road, creating extra hazards
  • An increased chance of truck rollover.

How to Reduce the Chance of One Involving You

jackknife truck reverse view

Reverse view after passing a jackknifed truck on an East Texas highway.

Because of the potential for severe injuries or death, motorists should take precautionary steps when on the road with tractor-trailers. You can do this by:

  • keeping a safe distance when following a tractor-trailer,
  • exercising extreme care when driving in hazardous road conditions,
  • only driving when you are awake and alert, and;
  • follow the speed limit and other traffic laws.

Fortunately for my teens, their first encounter was after things had come to a stop.

Getting Legal Advice After a Jackknife Accident

If you are injured due to an 18-wheeler jackknifing and causing a collision, it is important that you speak to a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Trucking companies and their insurers have risk management teams who will put boots on the ground to try to minimize their risks.  It is important that you put them on notice not to destroy critical evidence before your legal team has the opportunity to evaluate it.  Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers are personal injury trial lawyers who handle 18-wheeler accidents regularly and offer free consultations. Call today at 800-298-0111 to learn more.

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