Q: What does the term “jackknife” mean when it comes to truck accidents?
If you’ve ever used or even seen a pocketknife you know where the term “jackknife” comes from, even if you may not have put two and two together. The collision term “jackknife” refers to a truck accident where a truck with two separate parts (a cab and a trailer) folds in on itself at the point of separation. The cab and trailer swivel where they are linked together, forming a 90-degree angle “V” shape. This hinging effect closely resembles the effect of pocketknife blade folding into its handle while closing; thus, the term jackknife is used.
However, unlike a pocketknife, when a truck folds in on itself it doesn’t provide protection. On the contrary, it causes destruction.
Jackknife Damages and Causes
Any type of truck accident has the potential to be catastrophic due to the size and weight of commercial trucks. Commercial vehicles are allowed to weigh 80,000 pounds on interstate highways and pull 28-foot double trailers on the National Highway System—that’s a lot of weight.
Now imagine that 80,000 pounds and 28 feet of piercing metal is swinging toward your vehicle. It’s a pretty terrifying thought, now, isn’t it?
A jackknife accident can cause severe personal injuries, as well as catastrophic casualties and immeasurable destruction more often than you may think. In fact, nearly five percent of all truck accidents are jackknife collisions.
However, knowing the conditions where these types of accidents could occur can help you avoid them and keep your family safe. The most common circumstances you need to be aware of that cause trucks to jackknife include:
- High speeds. When a large truck is traveling over 55 miles per hour it becomes extremely difficult to stop on a dime. Rather than slowly easing to a stop, if a truck driver slams on his brakes while going above 55 mph, then the likelihood increases drastically that the heavy trailer he is pulling will swing out of control.
- Curves. Slight curves shouldn’t pose a problem for most commercial trucks, but the steeper the angle and the longer the trailer, the greater the chance that the trailer end will swing and cause the entire truck to lose control and fold in on itself.
- Slippery weather conditions and roads. Any loss of traction with the road can cause weight to shift and both cab and trailer to slide. Considering the massive weight and length of commercial trucks, even a small slide can cause the truck to jackknife.
- Equipment malfunction or negligence. Whether it's hydraulic failure, brake failure, or driver error, the slightest malfunction can cause a truck to lose control and sway back and forth. If control isn’t maintained quickly, the trailer could tip over or sway.
Contacting a Texas Truck Accident Attorney
Texas truck accident Attorney Steve Lee has spent his career fighting for all kinds of truck accident victims. He understands the trauma that comes with suffering a catastrophic collision and fights to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
If you have suffered an injury in a commercial vehicle accident, you need to consult with an experienced attorney who can assess all aspects, causes, and liabilities of your case. Choose a lawyer specialized in representing truck accidents victims by calling us today at 713-921-4171 or filling out our hassle-free contact form. We’re here to help you straighten out your injury claim.