At the Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz in Texas, we know how irritated you often feel when stuck behind an 18-wheeler on our roads and freeways. Your irritation can quickly turn into fear, however, if one of these behemoths jackknifes right in front of you. This could result in you and your passengers receiving serious injuries if you cannot stop in time and therefore crash into it.
Evans Transportation explains that a jackknife occurs when the truck’s driver loses control over it because the trailer begins folding into the cab, much like the way a pocket knife’s blade disappears into its handle when it closes. In the case of a tractor-trailer, however, the trailer has nowhere to go other than to crash into the cab. A jackknife can happen in a matter of seconds, giving its driver – and you – very little time to compensate and take evasive action.
When a trailer’s wheels lose traction on the roadway, they go straight ahead rather than following the cab. This usually happens if the driver bears down too hard on the gas pedal while negotiating a curve or a turn, particularly if the road is slippery from rain, ice or snow. The other major jackknifing situation occurs when a big truck “runs away” while going downhill on a steep grade. In his or her effort to stop the run-away, the driver hits the brakes too hard, but the cab consequently slows down while the trailer keeps going. In either situation, there is virtually no way to predict precisely how the trailer will move or exactly what the resulting jackknife will involve.
Your best strategy to avoid becoming part of a jackknife accident is to be extra vigilant when coming up on a trailer, especially in rainy or snowy weather. Be aware not only of the road conditions, but also of the road’s direction, noting approaching curves, hills, etc. so you can slow down and take evasive action should the need arise.
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