Jackknife Accidents Can Be Fatal for
Truck Drivers and Nearby Vehicles

In late September, authorities found the body of Jeffrey Cade Harkins in the truck of his overturned cab after a concerned motorist noticed tracks going off the road over the embankment. Harkins was only 46 years old and hailed from Dawson, Texas.

Although authorities are still investigating details about the cause of the accident. For some reason yet unknown, Harkin’s vehicle left the roadway, hit a utility pole and then went down the embankment. As the investigation continues, we’ll learn more about what caused this tragic accident costing this young man his life.

What Is a Jackknife Accident?

A jackknife refers to the configuration of the truck after it loses control. The trailer of the truck starts to bend at the point where it is attached to the cab of truck. When the trailer moves faster than the cab, the truck unit can spin and roll over and out of control.

What Causes a Truck to Jackknife?

Jackknife accidents happen for many reasons, including weather, faulty equipment or when a driver must react suddenly to a road emergency. Generally associated with large, semi-trailer tractors and cabs, these kinds of accidents are serious and often fatal for the big-rig drivers and other nearby drivers on the road. But, almost any vehicle that is towing a trailer or other kind of unit behind it is at risk of jackknifing in the wrong situation or in the wrong conditions.

A semi-truck is especially prone to a jackknife accident when:

  • A driver must navigate a rig through inclement weather
  • High-wind conditions make it difficult to control the cab and trailer, especially double or tandem trailers or high-profile trailers
  • Drivers speeding when they cannot see the road or traffic conditions over the top of a hill or around a corner
  • A trucker suddenly has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident or abrupt changes in traffic conditions
  • Younger, inexperienced drivers do not know how to stop suddenly in a safe and effective way
  • A truck improperly braking or has inadequately-maintained brakes
  • A driver overcorrects the steering when skidding from a sudden stop or in slippery conditions
  • A trailer is overloaded and the brakes cannot compensate for the excess strain on the braking system
  • The contents of improperly-loaded trailers shift around suddenly, causing the trailer to jerk to one side or the other

How to Avoid an Jackknifing Truck

Driving near or behind a jackknifing truck is dangerous for both you and the truck driver. Avoid the truck by slowing down or moving as far away as possible. Never attempt to pass a jackknifing truck, unless you are driving alongside one and it is safer to speed up than it is to slow down.

Contact Us for Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jackknife or rollover accident involving a semi-truck, please contact us to see how we can help you.