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What can cause a truck to jackknife?

When observing large vehicles in motion, one might witness a dangerous phenomenon known as jackknifing. This term refers to when a truck with a trailer in tow skids out. In such incidents, the trailer pushes from behind until it forms an acute angle resembling a folding pocketknife. Several factors can lead to this hazardous situation. Everyone operating a metal behemoth needs to understand what factors cause these frightening scenarios. Slippery conditions Slick roads are one of the most common culprits behind jackknifing. Whether the cause is rain, snow or ice, reduced traction can make a truck’s tires lose their grip on the pavement. When a driver brakes suddenly under these conditions, the wheels may lock up, triggering a skid that might result in the trailer swinging uncontrollably. Improper braking Drivers must apply brakes smoothly and gradually, especially in heavy vehicles with large loads. Harshly slamming on the brake pedal can lead to the rear wheels locking up, especially if the truck does not have an anti-lock braking system. This imbalance in braking force sometimes ends in jackknifing. Speeding and sudden maneuvers The faster a truck moves down the highway, the harder it becomes to stop or control in an emergency. In combination with sudden maneuvers such as swerving to avoid an obstacle, high speeds might cause the trailer to swing out. Maintaining a safe velocity and employing gradual, controlled movements help prevent these incidents. Load distribution Finally, there is the matter of a truck’s load distribution. Uneven contents or a shifting load can alter the truck’s balance, making it more prone to losing control. Properly securing and balancing cargo is a requirement for all trucking professionals. Jackknifing is a terrifying event that can end in severe injuries or even death. Conscientious driving practices go a long way toward protecting every rig’s operator, not to mention others on the road.The post What can cause a truck to jackknife? first appeared on Smith & Griffith, LLP .