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3 reasons why jackknife trucking accidents can be catastrophic

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Auto Accidents |

Sharing the road with massive tractor-trailers can be intimidating, and for good reason. These giants of the highway carry heavy cargo, and when collisions occur, the outcome can be devastating.

Jackknife accidents, a specific type of truck accident wherein the trailer swings perpendicular to the cab, are particularly dangerous. Understanding why jackknife accidents can be so catastrophic can incentivize road users to be more cautious around trucks.

Unstoppable force, immovable object

The size and weight disparity between a passenger car and a jackknifed truck is staggering. For perspective, a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, compared to a car’s average weight of 4,000 pounds. During a jackknife, the trailer acts like a giant metal plow, with the smaller vehicle offering minimal resistance. This immense force can crush cars, causing horrific injuries or worse for occupants.

Loss of control creates a chaotic scene

When a jackknife occurs, the truck driver loses control of the entire vehicle. The trailer can whip across multiple lanes of traffic, becoming a runaway hazard. This unpredictability makes it nearly impossible for other drivers to react in time, leading to secondary collisions and pileups.

Cargo spillage becomes a secondary threat

Many jackknife accidents involve cargo spills. Loose boxes, heavy machinery or even hazardous materials can scatter across the roadway, creating additional dangers. Spilled cargo can block traffic entirely, obscure hazards from view and cause further accidents for unsuspecting drivers.

Understanding the catastrophic potential of jackknife accidents is crucial for anyone sharing the road with large trucks. By staying aware of these dangers, practicing safe driving habits and maintaining a healthy distance from trucks, road users can minimize their chances of being involved in these horrific accidents.

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