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Jackknife Accidents: How Do They Happen?

Because of the sheer weight and size of commercial vehicles, any collision they are involved in has the potential to become catastrophic. According to a 2017 report from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), researchers found that approximately 107 thousand large trucks were involved in injury-causing accidents. Alarmingly, there were almost 5 thousand large trucks and buses involved in fatal vehicle collisions.  

One of the most common types of trucking accidents is called a “jackknife” accident, which occurs when a truck made of two components — a trailer and a cab — folds in on itself in a “V” shape. In a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), researchers estimated that each year, around 2 thousand injury-causing collisions can be attributed to jackknife accidents. Annually, these accidents result in approximately 200 fatalities on the road.  

What exactly is the cause of jackknife accidents? There can be several reasons for this type of trucking accident to occur, including: 

  • Improper brake maintenance or adjustment – breaking hard can cause a commercial vehicle’s axles to lock up if the braking system isn’t functioning properly. While the cab is dragging the trailer along with locked axles, the trailer can veer off to the side — and the two components can fold in on themselves.
  • Driving too fast – because commercial vehicles can weigh up to 80 thousand pounds with a full cargo trailer, sudden braking at night speeds can prove to be too much. In these cases, the cab will stop, but the trailer will keep moving forward.
  • Road conditions – icy, wet, or slippery road conditions can reduce the amount of traction that a vehicle’s tires have on the road. If a driver loses control of the vehicle, the risk of a jackknife accident occurring is significantly increased. This accident risk is also high when a driver maneuvers around tight turns and roadway curves.
  • Driver inexperience – learning how to properly operate a commercial vehicle takes many hours of training and practice. If inexperienced truck drivers are placed in high-risk situations, they may not know how to react to prevent an accident from occurring.

Contact a New York Trucking Accident Attorney

Jackknife accidents can be extremely devastating because of the type and the size of vehicles they involve. If you or someone you love has suffered from the physical, emotional, and financial impact of a trucking accident because of a negligent, reckless, or inexperienced driver, you have the right to seek financial compensation. At Hach & Rose, LLP, our team of seasoned New York trucking accident attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation to build the strongest possible case for you. Contact us today at (212) 779-0057 to discuss your rights and legal options.


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