What Causes an 18-Wheeler to Jackknife?
Poor or irregular braking is the most common cause of a jackknife accident. When the front of a semi-truck stops suddenly, the momentum of the trailer pushes against the truck and causes a jackknife collision. Some of the common causes of poor braking include:
- Poorly maintained brakes – If brakes are not regularly and properly maintained, they will not perform effectively, causing the cab wheels to skid.
- Steer axle tire failure – When the steer axle tire on a truck fails, the driver loses control of the truck and crashes into whatever is in its path. This often causes the cab of the truck to pull to one side while the trailer continues in a direct path, causing a jackknife accident.
- Driver negligence. If the truck driver is going too fast or isn’t paying attention and must stop suddenly, the result can be a jackknife. Likewise, if the driver is fatigued or impaired by drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to need to brake suddenly. Alternatively, a driver may just not have the proper training on how to safely operate 18-wheeler brakes.
- Bad weather. Poor weather conditions like rain, sleet, or snow (or any slippery situation such as oil on the road), make it more difficult for any vehicle to safely slow down, especially heavy tractor-trailers. Jackknifes are much more likely in bad weather.
- Overloaded or Improperly Loaded Trailers. If a truck is too heavy or a load of cargo is improperly balanced, jackknifing may occur. Additionally, if the cargo that is not safely secured shifts, the rig can jackknife.
How to Avoid Jackknife Accidents
Truck drivers are the first defense against sudden and unexpected accidents. Truckers have a duty to drive safely by obeying all rules of the road and exercising sound judgment. Most jackknife accidents are caused by truckers that neglect these duties.
- Don’t brake too suddenly or too hard – use your brakes lightly and gradually.
- Pay close attention to the road – focus on driving, put your cell phone down, and eat your meals on breaks. Industry standard suggests looking as far down the roadway as possible to anticipate sudden emergencies and changing conditions.
- Slow down in bad weather – if it is raining or snowing, reduce your speed.
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles – this will keep you from having to stop suddenly, but also, if you do happen to jackknife, the risk of harm to others is reduced.
- Get plenty of rest, and do not drink or use drugs while driving.
Our Houston jackknife truck accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you. Call us at (281) 801-5617 or contact us online to learn how we can help you recover compensation after a truck accident.