Oklahoma City Jackknife Truck Accident Lawyer
A "jackknife accident" occurs when a tractor-trailer bends at the hinge between the tractor and the trailer, forming an acute angle that folds the vehicle toward itself like a pocketknife. Jackknife accidents are among the most dangerous types of semi-truck accidents. Along with a rollover, a jackknife accident can easily cause serious injuries and death both to the truck's driver and to anyone else unfortunate enough to be caught up in the accident.
The Physics of Jackknife Crashes
Most jackknife accidents begin when the tractor starts to skid. As the skid deepens, the trailer may begin to push the tractor from behind, swinging the back end of the trailer out and forward as the tractor pulls backward and to the side. The cab and trailer end up facing in opposite directions, which prevents the driver from moving the vehicle. Thus, a jackknifed tractor-trailer may pose a crash risk even after it has come to a stop. If the vehicle jackknifes in the center of a busy road or freeway, drivers coming up to the accident may not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash.
Certain factors and road conditions make a jackknife accident more likely. Some common conditions likely to cause a jackknife accident include:
- icy or slippery road surfaces;
- tight curves, especially if the driver is going too fast to navigate them safely;
- improper braking or brake failure;
- equipment failure; and
- speeds over 55 miles per hour.
In addition, the risk of a jackknife accident increases as the length of the vehicle increases, according to a study by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The risk of a jackknife accident also increases if a tractor-trailer is not carrying a full load, since a lighter trailer is more likely to jackknife.
In some cases, a driver may deliberately try to jackknife a truck in order to stop it. This is an emergency maneuver used to prevent a more serious accident resulting from total brake failure. Delayed or neglected maintenance, botched brake repairs, or defective brake parts can all cause brake failure in large trucks.
According to the FMCSA, about 90 percent of death- or injury-causing jackknife accidents occur with trucks hauling a single trailer. Nearly all of these accidents result in death or injury to an occupant of a vehicle that is not the jackknifed truck.
Several methods have been applied over the years to reduce the risk of a jackknife accident. One early device, which is little used today, tried to reduce the angle the tractor could create with the trailer, but this device had little success. A much more successful method of reducing jackknife risk is to equip the trailer with anti-lock brakes. However, anti-lock braking systems are subject to the same brake failure risks as traditional brakes. Electromagnetic brakes or electronic brakeforce distribution systems have also been used to prevent jackknife accidents, with some success.
Helping You Recover
When a jackknife accident happens to you or someone you love, the experienced Oklahoma trucking accident attorneys at Maples Law Firm can help. As we work diligently to build an effective case on your behalf to hold negligent truckers or trucking companies liable, you can focus on healing from your injuries. For a free, confidential case evaluation, call us toll-free today at (888) 226-6159.