What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle July 10 2023 8:04 pm

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle July 10 2023 8:04 pm
What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident?

Driving next to a truck can be an anxiety-inducing experience, given the amount of damage that truck collisions can cause. Drivers should drive with caution, particularly when next to these vehicles. One type of truck accident that causes an extreme amount of damage is the jackknife accident, where a truck loses friction with the road, and the trailer traveling behind it swerves to an L or V shape. In 2020, nearly 5,000 jackknife truck accidents occurred. 

Being a victim of a jackknife truck accident can be a devastating situation that requires the assistance of an experienced Kansas truck accident attorney


A jackknife truck accident is caused by a loss of friction.

The small grooves in a concrete road help provide grip for tires so that they can grab hold of the road as you drive. However, tires will experience less friction and grip with the road when it rains or as a car increases in speed. It is this loss of friction that can result in a jackknife truck accident. It can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which can cause a trailer to move out of place and potentially cause damage to surrounding vehicles, individuals, or property.

The following scenarios might lead to a loss of friction between the road and a semi-truck.


Carrying a Light Load or No Load At All 

If your trailer is empty or has few goods, then you can increase the risk of jackknifing. An empty trailer will have difficulty in creating friction with the road–while a filled trailer will provide the weight that bears enough weight for tires to connect smoothly with the ground and catch traction for the right amount of friction. 


Slippery Roadways

Rainfall can fill the jagged circular grooves in the concrete leading to a decrease in friction once tires hit the road. As a result, tires on the road may struggle to maintain firm contact and static friction that will provide the traction to keep tires firmly gripped to the ground. Slippery roads increase the risk of jackknife truck accidents because of the loss of friction it causes for drivers.


Turning Too Quickly

Turning quickly can cause any vehicle to swing out during a turn and pose a danger to other vehicles in the vicinity. A regular car is dangerous enough. A truck can be disastrous as the trailer can swing out and become a projectile that collides with anything in its path. The force, weight, and physical girth of the trailer can lead to immense damage. A cautious driver will pay attention and turn with slow, measured movement. They will drive in such a way that keeps danger at bay.

Jackknife Truck Accident


Driving Too Fast 

It is easy to increase speed on long stretches of highway with no cars in sight. However, the biggest challenge for a fast-moving truck is stopping. Stopping a large truck will be difficult if moving at a fast speed. The brakes will be forced to work harder to stop the vehicle, which can lead to faulty brakes. Also, it can lead tires to skid or lose traction due to the quick shift in gears from fast-moving to reducing speed. This scenario can cause a truck trailer to jackknife sideways and endanger others. 


Preventing Jackknife Accidents

The following are some ways to prevent jackknife accidents, though some crashes are unavoidable. In addition, some truck drivers fail to take basic steps to prevent these accidents, leading to serious injuries.


Prepare by checking for road conditions.

Drivers should check beforehand to see what the weather and road conditions will be and prepare accordingly. They should also adjust their driving to be safe in certain conditions. 


Turn with care.

Before a truck driver turns, they should slow down and make the turn cautiously with care to keep the vehicle and adjoining trailer in a tight formation. Simple focus can help to ease the risk of having a jackknife accident. 


Perform adequate maintenance checks.

A truck’s wheels may be worn down to the point they have difficulty creating traction on the road. Perhaps the brakes do not work well. By performing maintenance checks on a truck, drivers can pinpoint the weak areas and address them so that the truck runs smoothly on the road.


Securing proper training

Driving a truck requires a specific skill set, and training involves learning best practices for safe truck driving. A person may have driven a commercial vehicle for many years, but specialized training will be what gives them the skill needed to operate a vehicle while minimizing the risk of accidents.


Set up a free consultation today with an experienced Kansas truck accident lawyer.

Being the victim of a jackknife truck accident and filing a claim or suing for damages can be a challenge, especially if you have sustained injury. Working with an experienced jackknife accident lawyer can help to ease your stress and help reclaim the maximum amount of damages that you deserve. Set up an appointment with a Pyle Law attorney today.

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Pyle Law was founded in 1999 with a commitment to fewer clients and better service. We believe that each and every client is important and everyone is entitled to justice and equal protection under our laws. We make every case a priority and are committed to keeping each client informed about the status of their case. We do not guarantee results, but we do guarantee effort.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney E. Thomas Pyle who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing personal injury trial attorney.