For many, jackknife accidents are associated with a frustrating interruption in our daily commute. A large semi-truck jackknifed on a highway or freeway often means multiple lane closures and traffic delays that can last hours. It can take a minute before people realize that the jackknifed truck is often associated with serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
Tractor trailers and other commercial trucks can cause very distinct traffic accidents. The primary reason is due to a combination of weight and design. These vehicles have a unique distribution of a massive amount of weight and are designed using a combination of stiff structures like the trailer and semi car connected together with a hinge or bearing type device to couple to two pieces together. There are few other vehicles on the road that tow such large and heavy trailers behind them while maneuvering at high speeds next to passenger vehicles.
One particularly devastating type of accident unique to semi trailers is jackknifing accidents. The sheer size of a semi-tractor trailer dwarfs most personal vehicles that share the same roadways. When the trailer becomes out of sync with the semi, horrible truck accidents can result.
Common Causes for Commercial Truck Jackknifes
The term "jackknife" refers to the fact that a commercial vehicle experiencing this event shares a resemblance to a knife blade folding within its own handle. Essentially, this type of accident occurs when the tires of the trailer loose traction with the road and cause the trailer to skid around the side of the semi. This occurs primarily when a semi truck brakes suddenly.
Many circumstances contribute to jackknifing. According to a study completed by the Department of Transportation, the risk of these accidents significantly increased with the following factors:
- Speed limit of 55 mph or higher
- Poor weather including rain and high wind speeds
- Curved road
The study also found a connection between both the trailer's weight and the probability of an accident. As the trailer's weight decreased, the probability of a jackknife accident increased. But when the trailer's length increased, so did the probability of a jackknife accident.
Another cause of jackknifes and other truck accidents are defective tires. Whether the tire lacks sufficient tread to maintain traction to the road or whether a flaw in the manufacturing results in a tire blow-out, tire product defects contribute to jackknife and rollover accidents.
Jackknife accidents are often deadly. It is estimated that 10 percent of all large truck accidents are due to a jackknife.
It can be difficult to find the truth behind a truck accident. Truckers and insurers have a lot at stake and may be reluctant to provide any information that might imply liability. That is why it is important that anyone who is injured in a trucking accident speak with an experienced and aggressive Rochester personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can evaluate any settlement offers you may receive and review your options with you to make sure your legal rights and remedies are protected.