Winter is here and along with the cooler temperatures comes the added driving hazards caused by slick roads. Truck accidents such as jackknifing are more common in these conditions, making the roads more dangerous. It is always important to take precautions to avoid jackknife accidents, especially so in cooler weather. To reduce the chance of such an incident, truck accident lawyers offer the following suggestions to those who operate these large, heavy vehicles.
Understand What Causes Jackknifing
Before it is possible to prevent these type of truck accidents, it is essential for drivers to understand what causes them in the first place. Jackknifing occurs when the trailer part of a tractor/trailer assembly swings to the side, continuing to swing until the rear of the trailer is facing almost in the same direction as the front of the rig.
This is caused by a loss of traction by the rear truck tires, often due to brakes that have locked up. Once tires lose traction and the trailer begins to slide, it can fold back on the rig and jackknife if there is enough momentum.
The main element in jackknife trucking accidents is how the brakes are applied and how to prevent brake lockup. Truck accident lawyers realize that not every jackknife crash is the fault of the driver and could be due to mechanical or other issues; however, the driver is the person who can do the most to prevent such accidents.
Overall, operators should do whatever is necessary to reduce the need to apply their brakes hard, which could lead to a lock up, with jackknifing the result. This means always traveling at safe speeds, keeping up with regular maintenance checks, and practicing safe driving skills like keeping enough distance between vehicles.
Avoiding Jackknifing Accidents in Bad Weather
Slick roads are common in winter, which is when drivers must be especially cautious to prevent truck accidents. In addition to practicing safe driving skills, truck accident lawyers stress that to prevent jackknifing in the winter, drivers must also pay extra attention to the following areas:
- Leave Additional Space - In wet or icy conditions, heavy trucks need even more space for braking than they would normally. Always maintain enough distance between vehicles to prevent the need to slam on the brakes or swerve out of the way, two actions that may cause the conditions that lead to jackknifing.
- Avoid Braking While Swerving - Anything that causes the rear of the trailer to swerve or slide around behind the truck should be avoided. Circumvent conditions that could make swerving necessary by maintaining lower speeds and keeping an extra distance between the truck and other traffic on the road.
- Brake Before Curves or Grades - Negotiate road curves by braking before and after on the straightaway, not while traveling around curves. Similarly, brake before a downhill decline. Slow down and use the brakes lightly but often to keep from speeding up. Avoid the need to apply the brakes hard when nearing the bottom of a hill, as this is a common time for brakes to lock up.
A jackknifing tractor trailer is a scary and dangerous thing. With the colder weather now here, truck accident lawyers stress the importance of safe driving and awareness of how and why jackknifing happens in order to prevent such an occurrence. Avoiding these common winter truck accidents requires extra care from drivers who recognize the increased risks and adjust their driving habits accordingly!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190