If you plan on taking a vacation trip by car with your family this summer, one of the last things you need is an accident with a semitruck. Typically, the great weight and size disparity between a fully loaded semitruck and a much smaller and lighter passenger vehicle does not bode well for those driving or riding in the smaller vehicle.

One particular danger presented by semitrucks is when the truck jackknifes on the highway, putting all who share the road with it in danger of serious injury or death. Some motorists mistakenly believe that jackknife accidents are solely a winter hazard, but that is incorrect.

The icy roads in winter do create conditions that increase the risk of jackknife accidents. However, they can also occur on rain-slicked roads in the summer. Any time the roads are slippery, whether from ice, snow, rain or a spill on the highway, a big rig faces enhanced risks of jackknifing.

The burden to avoid a jackknife incident on the highway is firmly on the semitruck’s driver, and the risk mitigation begins before that driver ever climbs up into the big rig. Ensuring that the tires are properly inflated and in good condition can reduce the risk of a jackknife accident. Making sure that the cargo is evenly distributed within the trailer is another way to prevent a deadly jackknife accident.

While the semitruck is rumbling down the highway, there are additional precautions truckers can take to avoid jackknifing. When inclement weather arrives, forgoing the use of the jake brake — the compression release engine brake, or Jacobs brake, that is common on diesel engines —can avert a potential disaster. Leaving plenty of room for braking between the semitruck and vehicle ahead of it is prudent as well.

Were you injured in a jackknife accident with a big rig? If so, learning more about your legal options when seeking financial compensation is a good idea.