Jackknife Accidents Are Often Caused by Truck Driver Error

January 4, 2018 | David Abels
Jackknife Accidents Are Often Caused by Truck Driver Error Semi-trucks are many, many times the size of the cars we drive and, as such, are involved in some of the deadliest accidents on our roads. These giant commercial trucks are everywhere – because the demand for consumer goods is nearly endless. Big rigs are the mechanism by which we move consumer goods to their rightful owners. As more and more 18-wheelers crowd our highways, it’s important to consider the safety implications. Jackknife accidents are one such concern, and they happen to frequently be attributable to trucker error.

Semi-Truck Accidents: The Statistics

Semis are everywhere, and accidents happen – often such accidents are deadly. Accident statistics reflect the uptick in our nation’s demand for evermore consumer goods. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shares some sobering statistics related to semi accidents:
  • In 2015, almost 4,000 people were killed in commercial truck accidents nationwide;
  • In 2015, the overwhelming majority of commercial truck accident fatalities were drivers and passengers in vehicles that weren’t the commercial trucks;
  • In the years from 2009 to 2015, truck accident fatalities went up by 22 percent; and
  • Semi-trucks were involved in a full 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015.
These statistics highlight the dangers inherent to commercial truck accidents and should serve as a vivid reminder of why you should always give big rigs plenty of room on the road. If you’ve been injured in a jackknife accident that was caused by a negligent trucker, you know exactly how terrifying and traumatizing that is. Your rights and your rightful compensation are too important to leave to chance and the whims of the insurance company; seek legal counsel. At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes, we understand what you’re going through and we have the commitment and compassion to aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled.

Jackknife Accidents

Semi-trucks are known as articulated vehicles because there is a moveable joint that allows articulation between the truck’s cab and the trailer that it’s attached to. This articulation is accomplished via a coupling mechanism, which allows for greater maneuverability of these massive machines, but it also makes semis far more vulnerable to certain kinds of accidents – including jackknife accidents. A jackknife accident is a truck accident in which the truck’s trailer folds back over into its own cab in a startling motion that resembles the swift closing of a jackknife. There are a variety of factors that can cause a semi-truck to jackknife, and many of them are related to trucker error or negligence:
  • A trucker who brakes improperly in relation to the driving circumstances (including inclement weather);
  • A trucker who is speeding;
  • A trucker who is distracted;
  • A trucker who takes turns or curves too quickly; and
  • A trucker who’s hauling a poorly or improperly loaded cargo*.
Truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to higher safety standards than noncommercial drivers are, and any one of these components – all of which are attributable to trucker negligence – can lead to a jackknife accident. *The trucking company itself may bear the entire responsibility for improperly or poorly loaded cargo – or may share this responsibility with the trucker.

Taking a Closer Look

Because semis are so massive and because semi accidents are so injurious, it’s important to more closely examine those circumstances that are especially contributive to jackknife accidents:
  • Speeding – Big rigs are, by definition, BIG, and every trucker understands the implications of such massive size. When truck drivers choose to exceed posted speed limits, those truckers know that they’re greatly reducing their ability to stop their rig in an emergency. The faster a semi’s speed, the lengthier its stopping distance. Speed is highly contributive to jackknife accidents.
  • Curves Ahead – While slight curves aren’t super dangerous, steep curves necessitate every driver’s careful navigation – and truckers are held to strict accountability. The steeper the curve, the greater the risk that a semi will jackknife. Truck drivers are well aware of this safety issue.
  • Inclement Weather Conditions – Bad weather often means bad roads, and in the case of 18-wheelers, any loss of traction with the road can spell disaster. Because tractor trailers are so gigantic, any amount of slip and slide on the roads must be taken extremely seriously.
Trucks pose an immense threat on our roads, and as such, their drivers are held to much stricter safety standards.

Distracted Truckers

Distracted driving is dangerous driving, but when professional drivers, such as truckers, so engage, it ups the ante considerably. Distracted driving is so prevalent and so dangerous that it warrants its own attention. Distracted driving has become such a problem that the United States government has devoted a website to the issue, distraction.gov. Distracted driving is identified as any driving in which the driver is focused on anything other than driving safely. Distractions are divided into three distinct categories:
  1. Visual distractions that engage the driver’s eyes;
  2. Manual distractions that engage the driver’s hands; and
  3. Cognitive distractions that engage the driver’s thought processes.
Within this classification system, engaging with one’s smartphone hits distracted driving out of the park. When a truck driver interfaces with his or her smartphone, that trucker is otherwise engaged on every level – visually, manually, and cognitively. Distracted truckers are far more prone to jackknifing accidents.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Jackknife Accident, Consult with a Chicago Truck Accident Attorney Today

Trucking accidents are among the deadliest and most terrifying on our roads. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a jackknife accident, you understand just how harrowing that is. Truckers are professional drivers who are held to strict federal, state, and industry standards. When such drivers choose to eschew safety regulations, they endanger everyone with whom they share the road. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes understands how traumatic such accidents are, and we’re here to help. Don’t leave your rights and your rightful compensation to chance – instead, contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.
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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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