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Jackknife Accident


Accidents are never good, especially jackknife accidents. In layman terms, a jackknife accident is where a truck crashes and bends in different places and then it folds over itself. This makes the truck look like an unfolded pocket knife, hence the name jackknife.

In most cases, this type of accident happens when a truck is hauling a trailer skids on the road. As the truck skids, the trailer it is hauling seems to push ahead with its weight from behind. The result is that the backend of the truck swings around which brings the trailer forward. Ultimately the truck and the trailer come face to face. This is one of the most devastating forms of truck accidents and is responsible for several tragic highway accidents.

What Is The Cause Of The Jackknife Accident?

jackknife accident

The primary reason for a jackknife accident is a skid but there are several reasons for the truck to skid. The common culprits here can be the braking system of the truck, slippery roads, inexperienced drivers, and mechanical failures.

Slippery Roads

The main issue that drivers face is slippery roads. A road can become slippery for several reasons including rain, or spillage of a slippery substance, etc. Drivers who have been on the road know how dangerous inclement weather can be for a truck.

If there is rainfall or any other precipitation in the area, then it can make slippery spots throughout the road. This becomes the perfect area for the truck to skid which is a precursor for a jackknife accident.

Also, standing water is dangerous for trucks and can cause jackknife accidents. Standing water can come from several sources including snow, rain, and hail being the common perpetrators. So it would be prudent for the drivers to check the weather of the route they are going to take as all it takes is a slippery spot to put them in harm’s way.

Braking System

There have been numerous instances of jackknife accidents originating from improper brake maintenance. When the braking system is not properly maintained, it can cause the axle to lock up.

This happens more often when the drivers are braking hard. So, the result of this is that the truck is simply carrying the trailer with the locked brakes. This will cause the trailer to be pushed to the side and ultimately causing a jackknife accident.

Mechanical Issues

Mechanical issues can include the brakes failing to respond and some other problems. Trucks are used to the fullest, which is why maintenance is the key to keep them running. So if the parts of the truck are not maintained properly then it can cause unforeseen breakdowns and mechanical problems which can directly contribute to a jackknife accident.


Driver Experience

A classic manmade-error which causes jackknife accidents is the driver’s inexperience. A driver who does not have a lot of experience is inept to manage a truck and the long hours can cause fatigue. If the driver is not seasoned properly, then these challenging situations can become overwhelming for them.

Also, there can be a scenario where the truck is traveling at a fast pace but has to stop due to an emergency. Here as well, an inexperienced driver can end up taking a wrong decision and cause an accident inadvertently.

The Aftermath Of A Jackknife Accident

Highway Lockdown

As trucks ply primarily on the highways, it becomes the center for most jackknife accidents. These accidents can include several cars including the ones that are just standing on the sides.

So this can lead to the cars causing a blockage on the highway; hence bringing the entire traffic to a standstill. Therefore, the entire highway may have to shut down for hours before all the vehicles involved in the accident can be cleared.

Economical Damage

As the trucks have a trailer attached to them, it’s safe to assume that they are carrying some cargo. An accident like jackknife can definitely end up with the truck and trailer being blown up or tossed over, hence causing a total loss of the cargo. In addition, if other cars are involved in the accident then the damage to the other cars also adds to the overall economic damage.

Physical Harm

Irrespective of the safety measures, jackknife accidents keep on happening and it causes violent human damage. These accidents are directly responsible for life-altering injuries and even cause death. Some of the common injuries associated with these accidents include broken bones, head trauma, brain damage, neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, and also decapitation.

How To Avoid Jackknife Accidents?

Jackknife accidents are preventable and all that the drivers need to do is be vigilant and careful. Maintaining speed and keeping a safe distance are some things that good drivers take care of to keep them safe.

Right Brake Pressure

A good driver will know how to apply pressure on the brakes to make sure there is no skid. So one tip to avoid jackknife accidents is to make sure that even brake pressure is maintained. But the drivers should be careful that while doing so, they should not, in any way, lock the brakes. It can cause an adverse effect.

Maintaining A Reasonable Speed


Some of the jackknife accidents happen because the trucks are going at a high speed and the driver lost control. So to avoid that, maintaining a reasonable speed is always a good idea. There are certain considerations that the driver has to do while deciding on a reasonable speed.

The first factor is that the speed of the truck should be decided as per the surrounding conditions including the weather. Moreover, they need to make sure if they are on schedule or not because staying behind schedule can encourage them to speed up.

Time And Distance

When you are braking, make sure that you have a good enough space in front of you to bring the truck to a halt. Additionally, always avoid acceleration or braking at curves as it is a recipe for a disaster.

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