St. Louis Truck Jackknife Accidents: What Causes Them? Can They Be Avoided?

Let’s consider what you need to know about jackknife accidents including how they happen, what causes them, and what can be done to prevent them.

Jackknifing accidents are one of the most common St. Louis auto accidents involving trucks. These accidents occur when the trailer part of the truck pushes forward ahead of the front part of the truck. This results in the trailer pivoting and creating a sharp angle with the tractor, making it look like a jackknife.

st. louis truck driver behind the wheel

Jackknifing is common with semi-trailers and large oil or water rigs because of their large trailers. Some jackknifing incidents are less serious, with only minor truck damage. However, others are much more serious and sometimes even fatal.

Let’s consider what you need to know about jackknife accidents including how they happen, what causes them, and how to avoid jackknife accidents.

What Makes a Truck Jackknife?

Many jackknifing accidents result from careless driving. Jackknifing happens when the front part of the truck or cabin slows down abruptly. Since trailers don’t come fitted with brakes, they still maintain momentum even if the cabins stop. This makes the trailers push ahead of the cabin leading to a jackknifing accident.

Some common causes of jackknifing include:

  • Improper and careless braking
  • Poor driving conditions like wet or icy roads that are slippery
  • Driving dangerously fast
  • Making sharp turns 
  • Lack of experience while driving trucks
  • Failure by drivers to maintain their trucks

These are some of the common causes of jackknifing accidents. However, as mentioned above, driver carelessness is the leading cause of these accidents. 

What Risks Do Jackknifing Accidents Carry

Jackknifing accidents carry a lot of risk for the truck driver, other vehicles, and pedestrians on the road. Jackknifing risks tend to be more severe because these accidents involve heavy semi-trailers and sometimes even oil rigs. Some risks of jackknifing include:

It’s worth noting that most jackknifing accidents aren’t standalone accidents and instead result in multi-car collisions. These have devastating repercussions for all road users, passengers included.

How to Avoid Jackknifing Accidents

Although jackknifing accidents are severe and sometimes fatal, they’re often not unavoidable. Truck drivers can take the following measures to decrease the risk of jackknifing accidents. 

Slow Down

Truck drivers should start slowing down much earlier when approaching a turn. Doing so will help make the trailer lose momentum, reducing the likelihood of jackknifing.

Increase Braking Distance

Instead of braking abruptly when nearing a turn, drivers should start braking much farther away from the turn. This will reduce inertia and bring both the cabin and trailer to a gradual stop.

Keep Adequate Stopping Distance

Semi-trucks and other large trucks need adequate stopping distance between the car ahead or stopping point. This ensures that they have enough braking distance to slowly stop the cabin and trailer.

St. Louis Car Accident Attorneys

Have you been involved in a jackknife accident and suffered injuries? Get in touch with the experienced St. Louis car accident attorneys at The Hoffmann Law Firm for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal right to compensation.

FREE Consultation

Speak with an experienced attorney 24/7

Updated: January 27, 2022