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Why do trucks jackknife?

Jackknifing is a scary position for drivers of trucks and for any pedestrians or drivers around them. Typically, truck drivers are trained to prevent and even stop a jackknife accident when the vehicle starts to go out of alignment, but sometimes they make mistakes that put their lives, and the lives of others, in danger. Those who are impacted by a jackknifing vehicle often have the right to compensation through an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

What are some reasons for jackknifing?

If the driver locks up the steering axle brakes, a jackknife accident can occur. This results in the front of the vehicle stopping, but the back continues forward in a straight line, forced to swing to the side.

Locking the trailer axles can cause the driver to lose control of the direction he or she's traveling.

Another possibility is if the driver locks up the drive axles. This is the most common reason for a jackknife accident.

How can these accidents be prevented?

Drivers who brake slowly are less likely to cause this kind of accident. Not swerving or braking to evade is another good way to prevent a jackknife accident; instead of throwing on the brakes and swerving, the driver should brake lightly, release the brake, swerve and then reapply the brakes. A continuous braking motion is more likely to result in a jackknifing accident.

If a driver is skidding, the best thing to do is to steer into the skid. Many drivers think it's best to drive the opposite way as a reflex, but driving into a skid will keep the trailer straight.

Source: Evan Transportation, "Why Do Jackknife Accidents Occur and How are They Avoided?," accessed Sep. 05, 2016

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