It’s common to hear the term “jackknifing” in reference to automobile accidents in the news. For example, perhaps you’ve heard this before: “A semitruck jackknifed along the interstate.” But do you really know what it means to “jackknife” a car, and how do we avoid getting hurt in an accident like this?
Jackknifing crashes happen more frequently to larger vehicles, like 18-wheelers and big rigs, but they can happen to smaller trucks and cars too. These incidents happen in slippery road conditions, or when a vehicle has to stop or turn more quickly than the car and the road conditions can handle.
Essentially, a jackknifing crash might happen like this: A semitruck is barreling down the highway on a rainy day when suddenly the vehicle in front of it has to stop quickly. The semitruck driver slams on his or her breaks to avoid a collision. The front of the semi stops as planned, but the back of the semi keeps barreling down the road, causing the back of the vehicle to slide out and forward. If the situation is not corrected appropriately by the driver, the jackknifing vehicle could end up spinning completely out of control.
Because jackknifing incidents are the most common when semitrucks are driving in rainy or icy conditions or when big rigs have to stop suddenly, vehicle drivers should always give semitrucks as much space as possible so that truck drivers have enough time to safely react to changing accident conditions. Semitruck drivers should also be careful to drive slower in bad weather conditions and to give surrounding traffic plenty of room.
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