Understanding the causes of semi-truck jackknifing

Understanding the causes of semi-truck jackknifing
Jun 05 2023

Semi-trucks are an integral part of the transportation industry. They haul goods across the nation, playing a crucial role in maintaining the economy. However, with their immense size and weight, these vehicles also pose significant risks, one of which is the potential to jackknife. This event can lead to dangerous road accidents, causing damage and injury.

A semi-truck jackknifes when its trailer skews at an acute angle to the tractor, resembling a folding pocket knife. This can lead to a loss of control, potentially resulting in serious accidents. The following discusses some of the most common causes of semi-truck jackknifing.

Braking issues

Semi-trucks require skillful handling, especially when it comes to braking. If a driver applies the brakes too hard or too quickly, the truck can jackknife. This usually happens when the wheels lock up, causing the trailer to swing out.

Sudden maneuvers

Sudden changes in direction, such as swerving to avoid an obstacle, can cause a truck to jackknife. This is particularly true when the truck is moving at a high speed, as the momentum can cause the trailer to swing wide.

Poor road conditions

Slippery roads due to rain, snow or ice significantly increase the risk of a semi-truck jackknifing. The reduced friction between the tires and the road can lead to the truck skidding, which can then lead to jackknifing.

Equipment failure

Faulty equipment, particularly related to braking systems, can lead to this situation. If a brake malfunctions, it can cause the wheels to lock up, resulting in a jackknife incident.

Improperly loaded cargo

A semi-truck’s cargo needs proper loading and balancing. If it is not, it can shift during transport, altering the truck’s center of gravity. This imbalance can increase the likelihood of a jackknife, particularly during sharp turns or sudden stops.

By understanding these causes, truck drivers and the transportation industry can take preventive measures, contributing to safer roads for everyone.

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