Driving alongside semi-trucks can be intimidating: they’re large, heavy and have slower reaction times than traditional vehicles. When semis jackknife, they can cause multi-vehicle accidents. In fact, in February 2022, a jackknife accident on I-71 occurred when the driver “was ‘crowded’ by another vehicle and jack-knifed while attempting to avoid an accident.”

Understanding how jackknife accidents can happen is the first step to avoiding them. If you’ve been injured in a jackknife accident, the Law Offices of Tim Misny can help ensure you receive compensation for your losses.

How do jackknife accidents happen?

Jackknife accidents occur when a semi’s tractor and trailer make a “V” shape. This can happen when the rear wheels of the tractor lock, causing the trailer to fishtail around. Alternatively, the trailer’s wheels may lock—and since the trailer is longer and heavier, it can create a swinging motion that causes a jackknife.

Ice, rain, snow and tight curves can contribute to jackknifing accidents. Be extra cautious when traveling in these conditions.

Passenger vehicles in jackknife accidents

If you’re involved in a jackknife accident, the number one danger is an underride collision—that is, low-profile vehicles crashing into or sliding under the bottom of the trailer. These accidents are often fatal. While some trailers have underride guards, not all do. Even with guards, colliding with a trailer at high speeds can still seriously injure or kill passengers. Finally, passenger vehicles often get into accidents with other vehicles when trying to avoid the truck.

Avoiding jackknife accidents

When following semi-trucks, allow plenty of distance in front of you. Slower stopping and accelerating times might be frustrating when you’re in a hurry, but a safe distance can make the difference between getting caught in an accident or avoiding one.

Similarly, if you are passing a semi, always pass on the left. Drivers have several blind spots and may not see you if you try passing in the right lane.

Finally, when traveling in inclement weather or on tight curves, pay attention to the truck in front of you. Leave distance, and be prepared to stop quickly or take evasive action.

Although some jackknife accidents are unavoidable, safe and defensive driving increase the odds of escaping with minor injuries.

The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you recover compensation from your jackknife accident. Call us today for a consultation.

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