What Causes Commercial Trucks to Jackknife?
Large, heavy commercial trucks are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road. The added weight of their cargo creates more momentum, which in turn causes more force during a collision. This leads to more serious injuries for the victims of a truck crash. There are many different types of truck accidents, but a jackknife accident is one of the most dangerous collisions a big rig can be involved in. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, consulting with a San Jose truck accident attorney can help. Our experienced San Jose big rig attorneys know how to protect your legal rights after any type of truck accident. Call Deldar Legal at (844) 335-3271 to schedule a free consultation.
What is a Jackknife Accident?
A jackknife accident occurs when a big rig crashes in such a way that the truck itself turns so that the cab is angled away from the cargo hold. These crashes occur when a driver loses control of the vehicle. In a Jackknife accident, the rear axle locks, which can cause the front cab of the vehicle or the rear cargo hold – or both – to tip.
There are many reasons that jackknife accidents are so dangerous (both to truck drivers and to everyone else on the road). The added weight of the vehicle causes more damage during a collision. The cab and the cargo hold can crash on separate trajectories, which gives the potential for even more persons and objects to be impacted on collision. The momentum of the collision can be great enough to push the truck into oncoming traffic. All of these possibilities increase the likelihood that the victims’ injuries will be serious – or even fatal.
The Most Common Reasons Trucks Jackknife
Jackknife accidents occur when a truck driver loses control of his or vehicle. There are many reasons that control can be lost:
Speeding is one of the most common ways a driver can lose control of a vehicle. It can be especially tempting for a long haul truck driver who is paid by the mile. Federal regulations limit the number of hours that commercial drivers may work before resting, and it is tempting for drivers to squeeze as many miles as possible into a shift. But speeding is also more dangerous for truck drivers than drivers of passenger vehicles. Speeding increases momentum in a collision, which increases the force of impact. The added weight of a big rig also increases the force of impact. This means that a speeding truck will cause far more damage in a collision.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has recently enacted new rules to enforce its existing rules about the number of hours commercial trucks can drive. The most important is the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track hours. Before this rule, drivers maintained paper logs that could be manipulated to allow for more driving between rest periods. ELDs track hours of driving and automatically transmit the data to a server. The devices are tamper-proof to prevent drivers from manipulating their hours. These rules are designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by tired truck drivers. Unfortunately, there will still be some drivers who choose to drive when they are too tired to safely do so. Fatigued drivers have slower response times, making them less able to react to dangerous conditions to prevent an accident.
Rain, hail, ice, and sleet all make the roadway slicker. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. The effect is even worse for truck drivers. Large trucks are more difficult to control under any circumstances. They have separate cargo holds with their own centers of gravity. They are heavy and more resistant to steering changes. All of these challenges become worse when the roads are slick. Truck drivers must respond to conditions in order to maintain control of their vehicles and cargo.
This is a phenomenon unique to tanker trucks, such as those that carry gasoline. The liquid cargo can slosh and change the center of gravity for the entire truck. When this happens, a driver must be prepared to slow down and regain control of the vehicle. Drivers who are inexperienced, or simply not paying attention, may not be able to regain control of the tanker truck in time to avoid a collision.
Truck driving is not an easy task. Many dangerous situations can arise on the highway, and the wheel of a fully-loaded big rig is no place to learn safe driving habits. Transportation companies that fail to adequately train or supervise their drivers can be found negligent. When this happens, they are legally responsible (“liable”) for the injuries caused by their inexperienced driver.
There is substantially more complicated equipment in a truck than a passenger vehicle. Malfunctioning equipment can cause a driver to lose control of a truck and jackknife. If a company sells defective truck equipment, it can be liable for injuries caused by these defective parts. A transportation company can also be liable for failing to adequately inspect its trucks before sending them on the roads. Finally, a driver might also be liable for failing to pay attention to unsafe conditions on his or her truck, or for failing to respond to them appropriately while driving.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a San Jose Big Rig Attorney
As you can see, a jackknife accident can cause serious injuries that impact a victim for the rest of his or her life. Truck accident injury victims have the legal right to be fully and fairly compensated for all losses they sustain in a jackknife accident. Don’t deal with the insurance company on your own – get an experienced big rig accident lawyer to fight for your legal rights. Call (844) 335-3271 to schedule your free consultation with a San Jose truck accident attorney. Our law firm serves big rig accident victims in Los Angeles, San Jose, Riverside, and surrounding areas and our San Jose big rig attorneys are ready to help!
Posted in: Big Rig Accidents