How to Prevent a Jackknife Trucking Accident

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What Is a Jackknife Accident?

Jackknifing happens when a semi-truck’s cabin and its trailer get out of alignment. These incidents often happen when the semi-truck is backing up, and they can also happen when a truck is braking. Essentially, the cabin and its trailer bend at a severe angle to form a V or L shape. This kind of situation causes the truck to create the shape of an actual jackknife. This type of accident is one of the most common type of truck accidents in the United States.

A serious jackknifing incident can cause catastrophic damages, injuries to truck drivers and injuries to other drivers and passengers. They can even result in death. As such, truck drivers need to do everything they can to avoid them. Fortunately, with proper training and attentiveness on the part of the truck driver, most of these accidents can be avoided.

Jackknife Prevention Tips


Here are a few tips for preventing jackknifing accidents:

  • Truck drivers should always pay close attention to their mirrors to make sure that their trailers are not swinging from side to side, especially when applying the brake. If the back of the truck doesn’t brake with the same speed as the front of the truck, the entire assembly can buckle into a jackknife formation and the driver could lose control.
  • The primary goal as a truck starts to jackknife is to prevent the truck from getting bent into such a severe angle that there’s no recovering from it. As such, truck drivers need to be vigilant and attentive to react quickly and appropriately as soon as a jackknife starts.
  • The best way to react to a jackknife is to let off the brake so that the wheels can regain traction.
  • Another way to respond is to increase the speed gently to allow the trailer to return to alignment.
  • Alternatively, if an acceleration caused the jackknife, try letting off the accelerator.

Truck drivers should always be careful when they’re accelerating, decelerating and backing up to avoid a jackknife crash. If you were injured in such an accident, it could be a sign that the truck driver who caused the crash was at fault, and therefore, financially liable to pay for your damages.


Source: HowStuffWorks, “How to Avoid Jackknifing”  Jane McGrath, accessed Mar. 3, 2019

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