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Dangers of Jackknifing Trucks


Any contact with a large, semi or big rig truck can be a catastrophic, if not fatal, encounter. In 2016, heavy trucks accounted for 3% of all crashes in New Mexico, and 7.1% of fatal crashes. On average, a crash occurred every four hours. A semi-truck accident is no minor collision, however jackknifing is one of the most deadly types of truck wrecks.

What is Jackknifing

Jackknifing occurs when a truck folds to resemble the acute angle found in jackknives. Jackknifing is not the same as trailer swinging or sliding. A trailer swing or slide is just when a vehicle skids off to one side. It is not nearly as dangerous as jackknifing.

What Causes Jackknifing

Truck Driver Impairment

  • If a truck driver is impaired in any way, this may lessen their chances of being able to prevent a jackknifing accident. A truck driver that is texting, driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, distracted, fatigued, or any other means that takes their attention from driving is at risk for jackknifing. All of these impairments make it possible for drivers to miss a signal light or stop signs, for example. If they need to suddenly brake, then the brakes may lock up and cause them to jackknife.

Equipment Failure

  • Equipment failure in a truck may make it difficult to stop, slow or simply maneuver the vehicle. Tire blowouts and brake failure are especially dangerous. When a driver loses traction or control, the trailer may gain more speed than the cabin which may cause the vehicle to jackknife. If equipment failed unexpectedly, it may be the manufacturing company’s fault, however if a driver knew maintenance was needed on any part of their vehicle, they or their truck company may be held liable for not fixing it in a timely manner.

Overloaded Truck

  • Just as stores, concert halls, restaurants, and generally anywhere that holds a group of people has a maximum occupancy, trucks have a set amount of weight that they can carry. If a driver overloads their truck with too much cargo or equipment, then they not only are more difficult to slow or maneuver, but they are also more susceptible for equipment failure. An overloaded truck that leads to a jackknifing accident often has the driver and/or truck company liable.

Poorly Secured Cargo

  • Unstable cargo or imbalanced cargo can also lead to poor control of a truck which may increase the probability of jackknifing. If and when a truck is improperly packed or overpacked, causing the weight to be unevenly distributed, it may jackknife. In that case, it is often the fault of the driver or driving company and they will be held liable.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a jackknifing accident, or any truck accident, trust no one but an experienced truck accident attorney at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm. We will provide insight and guidance every step of the way throughout your case.

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