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What causes semitruck jackknifing incidents?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | Truck Accidents

Driving a commercial semitruck is a vastly different process than driving a standard passenger vehicle. Commercial drivers have to obtain a specialty license to do their jobs because of all of the additional driving skills they need to develop.

If truck drivers carefully adhere to the best practices and safety suggestions provided in their training, they could virtually eliminate the dangerous and disruptive jackknifing incidents they sometimes cause.

Jackknifing happens due to several issues

When the police or news reporters talk about a truck jackknifing, what they mean is that the driver has essentially lost control of the trailer, so it travels down the road at a different angle than the cab. A jackknife can lead to a truck rolling over or could result from a rollover incident. These kinds of incidents can involve many other vehicles nearby.

There are numerous driving behaviors associated with jackknifing incidents. Driving too fast for road conditions is one issue. Failing to monitor the sway of the trailer is another concern, especially during times of inclement weather or high winds. Uneven loading of the trailer could also increase the likelihood of the vehicle jackknifing. 

Truck drivers or their clients may overlook important safety practices

Commercial transportation is an industry with unforgiving turnaround time demands and work requirements. Commercial truckers often drive the maximum number of hours allowed under federal safety rules. They may have only a few minutes to drop off one load and attach the trailer for their next load if they want to make all of their deliveries before they have to stop driving for the day.

The need for speed might lead to a driver failing to properly check a trailer’s contents before they start driving. If a driver doesn’t know that the new warehouse worker improperly loaded the trailer or that there are liquid materials in the back of their truck, they’re more likely to lose control of the trailer when turning or going around a curve. Some drivers won’t feel like they can slow down when they notice significant sway in their trailers due to high winds.

Unfortunately, these kinds of crashes have catastrophic consequences for the other people involved, and a jackknife incident could easily involve multiple other, smaller vehicles. Understanding that these are not freak occurrences but largely predictable and preventable events may motivate you to seek justice if you get hurt in a trucking collision.