When a tractor-trailer “jackknifes”—folds as a result of the trailer swinging outward—it can create a scary situation for other drivers on the road. The trailer may swipe across several lanes, striking unsuspecting vehicles in its path. Tragically, this most-dangerous type of truck accident often ends in significant damage and trips to the emergency room for those unlucky enough to get hit by the heavy trailer.
At Hinton & Powell, our accident attorneys are here to explain how jackknife accidents happen so that you can hopefully avoid them when possible. And if you ever get caught in a jackknife accident while driving on Georgia roads, give our Atlanta-based law firm a call.
If a truck driver has to slam on the brakes, a jackknife accident may be imminent. A cab and a loaded trailer will stop at different speeds, so quickly applying the brakes will cause the trailer to pivot. You might see this happen if there’s a sudden stop in traffic or if a truck driver hits the brakes while descending a steep hill.
Navigating curvy roads can be tricky for a big rig. Turning too sharply causes the trailer to sway, which can result in a jackknife accident if the driver is unable to regain control of the semi.
Just like in any other accident, driver errors such as speeding, distraction, and fatigue can contribute to a jackknife scenario. And while jackknifing isn’t necessarily a rookie mistake, a less experienced truck driver is more likely to struggle with controlling an 18-wheeler in situations where jackknifing is possible.
When roads get wet or icy, a vehicle’s tires lose traction, causing it to skid. A truck that’s slip-sliding away will often jackknife.
A particular trailer can only carry a certain amount of cargo, as indicated by its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, so overloading the trailer can cause the truck to jackknife once it’s on the road. But even when carrying an appropriate load, a trailer will swivel if it’s not filled properly. In a balanced cargo trailer, the heaviest 60 percent of cargo sits at the front half, and all items must be secured so that they don’t move around in the trailer and cause it to lurch.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires most trucks to have anti-lock braking systems, and tractor-trailers face even stricter regulations. However, a defect or a lapse in maintenance can still cause the brakes to fail, which may result in a jackknife accident. When a vehicle’s brakes aren’t working properly, the axles lock up, and dragging a trailer with locked brakes will push it out to the side.
Hinton & Powell handles personal injury cases throughout the state of Georgia and beyond. With 96 years of collective experience, our lawyers can help you receive the compensation you deserve after a jackknife accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.