Commercial drivers often drive large vehicles called semi-trucks. These trucks have two parts, a main cab and a trailer.
When this kind of vehicle is in motion, the cab and trailer usually stay in alignment. However, if the driver puts their brakes on too quickly or there are side winds, there is a risk that the trailer could come out of alignment and try to pass the front cab. If that happens, the trailer won’t be able to move forward and may instead swing to the side. This is what causes a jackknife.
Commercial drivers know the risk of jackknifing
The reality is that commercial drivers do know what jackknifing is and are aware that it could happen under certain circumstances. Generally speaking, jackknifing is most likely when the trailer doesn’t have good friction, like if the ground is wet, as well as when there is a sudden stop or heavy wind against the side of the trailer.
Drivers are trained to handle these issues. They know that they need to check the weather and keep track of what’s happening outside. They know that they need to speed up if the trailer begins to come out of alignment. They may even learn how to steer to try to regain control in a spin.
Other drivers are at serious risk of injury if a jackknife occurs
If a jackknife crash does happen, other drivers are at serious risk of getting injured. There is a potential that vehicles in any of the lanes around the truck could run into the trailer or collide with each other as they try to avoid a crash.
Additionally, people could get hurt if the trailer is hauling flammable or toxic materials, which makes the potential for damage in this kind of crash even greater.
What should you do if you notice swaying or other problems?
If you notice a trailer swaying, honk to get the driver’s attention or call 911 to alert the police to the hazardous situation. If you end up getting into a crash, focus on getting medical care first, and then look into your options for pursuing a personal injury claim.