The Risks of Jackknife Truck Accidents
“Jackknife” truck accidents refer to situations in which a commercial truck’s trailer swings out to the side, creating a 90-degree angle with the truck’s cabin that looks much like a folding jackknife, hence the name. These unique types of Arizona truck accidents are extremely deadly, however, so you should familiarize yourself with their risks and how to avoid them.
How Jackknife Crashes Happen
Commercial 18-wheeler trucks are split into two key components, namely, the cabin and the trailer. The cabin is where the trucker sits, and is more or less a large, unusually shaped vehicle, with all of the traditional safety features and tight controls that smaller vehicles enjoy. The trailer, on the other hand, accounts for most of the size of the truck, yet is fastened to the cabin with little more than a free-swinging hitch. In normal situations, this freedom of motion helps trucks take corners without having to obstruct entire intersections, but in emergency scenarios, it can become a liability if the trucker loses control of the trailer.
According to Arizona truck accident statistics, jackknifes are more likely to occur when a truck’s trailer is lightly loaded or empty, especially while traveling downhill, taking a turn, and/ or moving at high speeds. If a trucker suddenly brakes in these situations, their cabin may come to a stop, but the trailer might maintain its momentum and swing forwards in a different direction, causing accidents of its own.
Note that jackknife accidents are almost never unavoidable. Contrary to popular belief, a truck’s trailer isn’t just “trailing” behind it with no control. Trailers and their axles have brakes of their own, which experienced truckers should use to maintain control over their entire vehicle, even in emergency situations. As such, truckers are usually at least partly liable for jackknifes.
Why Jackknife Crashes Are So Dangerous
Jackknifes usually cause and contribute to accidents in one of a few key ways. At the simplest level, a jackknifing trailer can swing wide and directly strike vehicles traveling near the truck, slamming into their vulnerable sides or rear bumpers and causing significant damages. Even if a trailer doesn’t directly strike something, it’ll still remain stretched out across multiple lanes, which can catch oncoming drivers off-guard and cause pileups.
Furthermore, jackknife accidents can also lead to secondary underride collisions. Underride truck accidents most prominently involve smaller vehicles striking a truck trailer from its side, at which point the front bumper of the vehicle tends to “ride under” the open space beneath the trailer. Instead, the first point of impact ends up being the passenger cabin, crushing and killing all occupants in the vehicle in many cases.
Get Help After an Arizona Jackknife Truck Crash
If you’re hurt in a jackknife truck accident in Arizona, it’s important to take your time and focus on your recovery. Arizona’s truck accident statute of limitations gives you two years to file a claim from the date of your crash, so you shouldn’t let adjusters rush you into a hasty, undervalued settlement. Instead, talk to a legal professional early to get a good sense of how you can recover your losses. ELG’s Arizona truck accident attorneys can help you through these trying times, so be sure to give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate, specialized lawyer today.