A dangerous crash: Why semitrucks jackknife

On Behalf of | May 15, 2020 | Personal Injury |

Just driving close to a semitruck can be a nerve-racking experience for anybody on the best of days, let alone when Michigan roads are less than ideal. 

As Macomb County residents know, in an accident, semitrucks with trailers can quickly turn a small crash into a multi-car pile-up. Large trucks were involved in more than 13,000 crashes in Michigan during 2018, which resulted in approximately 100 deaths and over 2,000 injuries. With how dangerous semitrucks can be, it’s important to be aware of one of the most common types of semi accidents — jackknifing.

How to be on alert

The accident occurs when the wheels slide so that a semitruck and its trailer fold inward at its articulation points. The V- or L-shaped angle of the vehicle resembles a folded pocketknife, which is how jackknifing got its name. 

Jackknifing is due to loss of traction with the road, causing the semitruck’s center of gravity to shift and the entire big rig to slide. It’s likely to occur when severe skidding or braking are involved. It can happen because of many factors, including any of the following:

  • Slippery roads due to rain, ice, snow or black ice
  • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
  • Towing too light a trailer load
  • Curvy, winding roads
  • An inexperienced or impaired truck driver

If the trucker slams on the brakes going at high speed, it’s likely the trailer will swing into the jackknife position. Because of the extreme weight and length of semitrucks and trailers, when weather conditions are truly bad, even slight movements can result in jackknifing. 

Once a semi starts to jackknife, it’s easy for the trucker to lose control. The semi is likely to collide with other cars, and the truck might slide into oncoming traffic and land sideways across several lanes of the road. Cars behind the semi may not be able to stop in time and could hit the truck, which can result in catastrophic damage for the drivers and passengers, including potential injuries to the head and neck or even death.

Getting help when the worst hits

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a truck crash, the last thing you may want to think about is the money. Nevertheless, bills can quickly add up — hospital expenses, missed workdays, even funeral costs. Speak to an experienced Michigan attorney who can deal with the insurance companies and see that you get as much financial compensation as possible.