Tractor-trailer semi-trucks are a vital part of our transportation/supply system. However, weather, drivers that are not careful and/or well-trained can cause dangerous and sometimes fatal accidents. One type of accident resulting from truck driver negligence is the jackknife accident. Jackknife accidents are extremely catastrophic because they can involve numerous vehicles. Almost all of them involve life-altering or fatal injuries. Here’s what to know about these violent truck crashes.
Table of Contents
A jackknife occurs when the trailer of semi-truck swings to one side at a 90-degree angle and uncontrollably overtakes other lanes of traffic. The term comes from the look of the tractor-trailer after the crash resembling a jackknife or the letter L. When a jackknife wreck happens, the trailer and cab can hit and crush other vehicles in its path. It can also block numerous lanes leading to additional collisions. Jackknife crashes can also be considered rollover crashes when the truck slides and rolls over onto its side, although not all rollovers end in a jackknife.
Jackknife collisions are often either the cause of driver negligence or inclement weather, other distracted drivers, truck maintenance, or a combination. These include the following:
- If a truck driver is speeding, the trailer can slide sideways and jackknife when forced to stop too quickly.
- The average tractor-trailer weighs about 80,000 pounds.
- The average length of a trailer is between 70 – 80 feet.
- Tractor-trailer trucks need 40% more time to brake.
- If drivers do not take it slow enough, bad weather or road conditions can also cause a jackknife.
- Ice, snow, rain, loose gravel, or loose asphalt can cause trailers to bounce and slide.
- Hazardous road conditions, as accumulated oil can cause slipperiness.
Improper Following Distance
- Truck drivers that do not provide an adequate following distance to allow for a safe stopping distance can cause the trailer to slide sideways and jackknife when having to slam on the brakes.
- Drivers who do not exercise caution as they enter and properly maneuver down hills or curves can end up shifting out of position and possibly topple over.
Driver Operator Fatigue
- Many tractor-trailer accidents/crashes happen when drivers have logged too many hours without proper rest.
- When the body is tired, response time suffers.
- If a driver is groggy, they lack the cognizance to maneuver out of a dangerous situation.
Inexperienced or Untrained Operators
- Driving a truck is a demanding job that requires several skill sets and experience.
- Truck companies try to lower costs by using inexperienced drivers that don’t have the training or experience for long hauls or driving on busy/dangerous highways and interstates.
- Safe truck driving ensures the trailer’s cargo is loaded correctly and the weight is equally distributed.
- When the load is unbalanced, it can shift, causing the trailer to tilt or tip.
- Unbalanced loads are a common factor in rollover crashes.
Lack of Maintenance
- Drivers or companies that ignore:
- Routine maintenance
- Alignment checks
- Brake pad replacement
- All can lead to accidents and crashes.
Research shows that jackknife crashes can cause widespread damage, as they usually spread across multiple lanes of traffic. Because of this, there is the danger of secondary crashes or vehicles not initially involved in the crash, running into the tractor, trailer, or scattered wreckage and debris.
18 Wheeler Accident Treatment
Analysis An Effective Tool In Physical Therapy Rehabilitation
Body composition is essential for understanding an individual’s physiological makeup and guiding a personalized treatment plan to target specific areas. InBody is non-invasive and convenient, making it ideal for rehabilitation practices. The InBody test provides comprehensive results that can educate and engage individuals in tracking their progress throughout their physical therapy. In less than 60 seconds, the InBody Test provides easy-to-understand, accurate, and objective measurements. Chiropractors and physical therapists use the InBody for:
- Assessing muscle distribution.
- Targeting areas weakened by injury or surgery.
- Identifying fluid imbalances related to inflammation or postoperative edema.
- Monitoring changes to determine the efficacy of exercise programs.
- Guiding recommendations to ensure long-term success.
Girotto, Edmarlon et al. “Working conditions, and sleepiness while driving among truck drivers.” Traffic injury prevention vol. 20,5 (2019): 504-509. doi:10.1080/15389588.2019.1609670
Gray, Garry. “A bird’s eye view of driving safety culture: Truck drivers’ perceptions of unsafe driving behaviors near their trucks.” Work (Reading, Mass.) vol. 64,2 (2019): 187-194. doi:10.3233/WOR-192985
Smith, Joyce A et al. “Spine and spinal cord injury in motor vehicle crashes a function of change in velocity and energy dissipation on impact with respect to the direction of the crash.” The Journal of trauma vol. 59,1 (2005): 117-31. doi:10.1097/01.ta.0000171534.75347.52
Stavrinos, Despina et al. “Commercial Truck Driver Health and Safety: Exploring Distracted Driving Performance and Self-Reported Driving Skill.” Workplace health & safety vol. 64,8 (2016): 369-76. doi:10.1177/2165079915620202
Stein, H S, and I S Jones. “Crash involvement of large trucks by configuration: a case-control study.” American Journal of public health vol. 78,5 (1988): 491-8. doi:10.2105/ajph.78.5.491
The information herein on "Jackknife Tractor-Trailer Accidents and Crashes" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card