Causes and Prevention of Jackknife Truck Accidents

truck driving on the highway in the rain

Bad weather, poor vehicle maintenance, and lack of safety checks can all contribute to a tractor-trailer jackknifing, which occurs when the front of the truck bends toward the trailer in the shape of an opened pocketknife. Our truck wreck attorneys have the experience you need to seek the compensation you are entitled to if you have been injured in one of these crashes. For more information on the causes and prevention of jackknife truck accidents, get in touch with a steadfast lawyer.

Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Jackknifing Collisions

When jackknifed crashes occur, it is usually due to wet or icy roads, an emergency stop without well-maintained brakes, or somebody turning at unsafe speeds – especially during bad weather.

Braking Issues

Eighteen-wheelers have a series of brakes that must be matched properly. Many times, they are not. Keeping brake age, type, and condition consistent means fewer chances of malfunctions. If a commercial vehicle’s brakes are not up to code, a driver could lose control of the power unit, causing a jackknife wreck.

Road Conditions

Rain, snow, ice, and even wind can contribute to an increase in a truck jackknifing. Any conditions that cause hydroplaning may also facilitate a semi-truck jackknife wreck.


Understanding the safety regulations and training that shipping professionals receive is part of a motivated lawyer’s job when constructing a case for a truck jackknifing incident. The truck operators are ultimately responsible for being cautious with their driving and vehicles.

Prepare for Weather

Staying on top of the weather forecast is vital for a commercial vehicle operator. If the roads are wet, snowy, or icy, drivers must travel slower than they would on dry roads. Truck drivers carrying heavy cargo loads must act accordingly to accommodate for adverse road conditions.

Alternatively, the lighter the load, the better chance gusty winds could knock the truck over. In more extreme weather, they are not supposed to be on the road at all. This is not practical for most commercial drivers, however, so they need to take as many precautions as possible to ensure they are operating safely during dangerous weather conditions.

Maintain Vehicles

Vehicle maintenance is critical for preventing trucking jackknife accidents. As stated above, braking issues are responsible for many jackknife crashes. Due to their large size and extraordinary weight, 18-wheelers wear brakes out much faster than other vehicles. In addition, ensuring all the tires are in good condition with adequate tread can help ensure a truck can grip the road in all weather conditions.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) requires commercial vehicle operators who drive both interstate and throughout Texas to complete a mechanical check before every trip. Many operators also conduct a post-trip inspection, but the pre-trip inspection is mandatory.  Maintaining accurate and consistent records of these required inspections is a vital component of accountability when it comes to ensuring these trucks are safely operating on the roadways.

Drivers must also record how their safety devices look and function. They are supposed to check brake tolerance, condition, and match, along with ensuring sufficient tire tread and working reflectors. While the FMCSA requires drivers to log these checks for every trip, they do not always follow through. That creates a hole in maintenance records, which makes their plea of innocence more difficult to prove in the event of a jackknifing truck collision.

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McCraw Law Group N/a
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