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Do you understand what a jackknife accident is?

You share the road with larger commercial vehicles every day. You are likely aware from both driver's training and signage on semitrucks and eighteen wheelers that there are massive blind spots around these commercial trucks. You may also realize that their size can make stopping quickly difficult. Most drivers even understand that larger vehicles with attached trailers make wider turns when compared with typical passenger vehicles.

All of this leads to a serious danger for injury or death. Roughly 21 percent of accidents involving trucks result in serious injury or death for people in the other vehicles involved. Knowing all of that is a great way to reduce your risk of an accident with a commercial truck. However, what do you know about jackknifing? This kind of accident is common enough to have its own nickname and can pose a serious risk to vehicles traveling in close proximity to a commercial truck when it happens.

What is a jackknifing accident?

When a truck jackknifes, basically what happens is that the trailer and the front part of the truck end up facing different directions. Attempting to stop or turn suddenly can result in jackknifing. Basically, the weight and the momentum of the trailer part of the vehicle stop it from responding as quickly as the truck/engine section in the front. The trailer turns at an angle and may force the truck farther down the road. It may also cause the truck to flip or roll over.

Many times, when a truck jackknifes, the driver has completely lost control over the vehicle until it stops. When it does, it may be off the road or blocking all lanes of traffic. Even vehicles who aren't in the immediate path of jackknifing when it happens can end up damaged or destroyed by colliding with the frozen vehicle after it stops.

Risk factors that could result in jackknifing

Certain kinds of roads and driving conditions increase the risk of a jackknifing accident. In fact, the risk factors overlap with the risk factors for a commercial truck rollover accident. Driving at speeds greater than 55 miles per hour substantially increases the risk of one of these serious accidents. Poor weather conditions can also increase risk. Wet, slick, icy or snowy roads can decrease traction and result in less control over the vehicle. That, in turn, can cause a serious accident.

Curvy and winding roads can also increase the risk of a jackknifing accident. Needing to regularly brake and turn can result in a mistake, which can then lead to a jackknifing incident. With great care and luck, no one has to get injured when that happens. Many times, however, other drivers nearby end up involved when a truck jacknifes, often with tragic results.

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