Jackknifing occurs when the trailer of a semi-truck swings up toward the cab at a close angle after losing traction, causing the truck to fold like a jackknife. These accidents are particularly dangerous because they impact multiple lanes of traffic, and the truck’s cab and trailer can easily crush other vehicles trapped between them.

What causes a large commercial vehicle to jackknife?

Common causes of jackknifing

A wide variety of issues can lead to jackknifing. Common causes of jackknifing include:

  • Inclement weather—Heavy rain, ice and snow can be dangerous for any driver, and large commercial vehicles are just as prone to skidding in these slippery conditions. This is especially true when driving on an incline or turning, and drivers must take precautions to prevent jackknifing.
  • Roads with sharp curves—While smaller vehicles have a relatively small turn radius, sharp curves can be very dangerous for semi-truck drivers. Without care, the trailer can swing after taking a sharp turn.
  • Brake issues—Truckers and other drivers rely on proper maintenance to keep their vehicles safe. However, if faulty brakes fail or if the carrier fails to fulfill their responsibility to maintain those brakes, braking can cause a truck’s axle to lock up and make the truck more difficult to control.
  • Sudden stopping—If truckers drive too quickly for the road conditions or lack the training they need, they may not be able to brake safely if a hazard or crash occurs. When they brake suddenly, the momentum of the trailer can easily cause it to swing around into a jackknife position.

If you or a loved one experienced harm in a big rig accident that involved jackknifing, speak to an attorney. They can help you determine whether driver or company negligence contributed to this accident and hold these people and companies responsible for their part in the crash.