Jackknife Accident | Lawyer Sarasota Florida

Truck Jackknife

Jack knifing occurs when the trailer of a tractor-trailer truck loses control, swings out, and forms an acute angle relative to the cab. It is usually caused by adverse road conditions, improper breaking, or equipment failure.

While jack-knifing is rare, it creates a highway danger for trailer underride accident or tractor trailer underrun accident. A jackknife accident can also lead to tractor trailer rollover. Jack-knifing is likelier to occur when the trailer is empty or is carrying a light load.

A skilled truck driver can often avoid a jackknife occurrence, even if he or she encounters an unforeseeable slipperiness of the road. But when encountering an emergency situation, the driver can make choices that can lead to different outcomes.

By locking the steering axle brakes, the entire vehicle will continue to move forward but will lose the ability to be steered. Locking the trailer brakes may cause the trailer to swing, also resulting in the loss of directional control. Locking the drive axle brakes is likeliest to result in a jackknife.

Truck accident experts tend to agree that the best option is to apply the brakes evenly without locking them. Unfortunately, many big rigs are not equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS). The problem is aggravated by unbalanced bakes or by an uneven distribution of the truck’s load.

Anti-lock breaking systems have significantly reduced the number of heavy vehicle accidents among those that have been fitted with them. Another important advancement that has prevented jack knifing is the load-sensing regulator. This simple device reduces the brake pressure to the rear wheels of empty vehicles or those hauling light loads.

A newer device known as the “Atlas AJSS” engages at speeds of over 45 mph, preventing the trailer from becoming more than 15° out of alignment with the cab. At slower speeds, the system disengages, allowing for hairpin turns on winding mountain roads.

But until all articulated vehicles are equipped with ABS and anti-jack knifing devices, the way truck drivers can avoid jack knifing is to:

  • Maintain their distance, especially on a slippery road
  • Brake evenly over the longest distance possible
  • Not decelerate on a turn, especially on a downhill turn. Enter the turn slower than necessary – you can then increase your speed while turning
  • If evasive action needs to be taken and the driver can avoid breaking and swerving simultaneously, the driver should brake first and not swerve until the last moment. If the situation allows, the driver should release the brakes in order to swerve and then re-apply them
  • If the trailer begins to skid, the driver should release the brakes and steer into the skid

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a jack knifing accident involving a tractor-trailer, you should be aware that trucking companies have attorneys, investigators and insurance representatives on their side.

Protect your rights. Let us help secure justice and financial security for your and your family. Contact experienced accident attorneys. We handle truck accident cases on behalf of consumers only. Like we do for every client, we work with you and your needs in mind in seeking the settlement you deserve and, if your claim doesn’t settle, trying your case to a jury.

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