Truck Accidents Related to Braking or Jackknifing

Accidents involving large trucks can be caused by a number of different factors.  Accidents that involve large trucks and passenger vehicles are often catastrophic due to the extreme differences in size – both in weight and height – between the two vehicles.  The large size of a truck, which can be twenty to thirty times heavier than a passenger vehicle, can affect a truck’s braking capacity and ability to stop on a dime in the event of a traffic incident.  A fully-loaded tractor trailer can take twenty to forty percent longer and farther to stop than a passenger vehicle, and it can potentially take longer if the roads are wet or slippery, or if the truck’s brakes are improperly maintained.  Sometimes a truck’s braking problems can cause the truck to jackknife, which may have serious consequences, including the death of those who are involved in the accident. 

When a large truck jackknifes, the trailer that the truck is hauling swings out, folds, and comes to a rest at a ninety-degree or sharper angle from the truck, resembling the angle of a pocket knife.  When these trailers swing out, they can potentially hit other vehicles or even pedestrians, causing serious damage both to people and property.  At high speeds, a jackknifing truck also has the potential to roll over which can lead to an even more devastating accident. 

Jackknifing usually happens when a truck driver suddenly applies the brakes, especially when traveling at high speeds.  Upon sudden braking, the whole truck and its trailer can start to skid, which can lead to jackknifing.  The skidding usually occurs due to the complex truck braking system that is much different than the brakes in a passenger vehicle.  There are three different braking components and if one is suddenly applied to avoid hitting another vehicle, the truck can become difficult to steer, or some wheels lock while others do not, causing the truck to jackknife.  Other causes of jackknifing include equipment or mechanical failure, taking a curve too quickly, or icy or wet road conditions. 

Jackknifing can also be caused when a large truck blows a tire when traveling at a high speed.  This past spring on the 210 Freeway near Arcadia, a large eastbound truck hauling cars jackknifed after its tire popped.  After the truck’s tire blew, it slammed into the center highway divider, rear-ended some passenger vehicles and pushed them along the divider until the truck came to a rest straddling the divider with its cab in the westbound lanes.  A vehicle that the truck hit caught on fire and spread to the truck’s cab.  Fortunately the accident was not fatal and five of those involved in the accident, including the truck driver, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. 

Jackknifing truck accidents can be devastating and serious.  Regardless of whether the accident is caused by brake malfunction, blown tire, or inclement weather, a jackknifing truck can cause significant property damage, severe injuries, and even death.  If you are involved in a jackknifing truck accident, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney to discuss your potential claim. 

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney with the primary accident information site on the web, www.AutoAccident.com

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident involving a large truck, call me now at (916) 921-6400, or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for your free and confidential consultation. 

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