Collisions Involving a Jackknifed Tractor Trailer

Collisions Involving a Jackknifed Tractor Trailer

Have you or a loved one ever been involved in a motor vehicle crash involving a tractor trailer? Did the crash involve a jackknifed tractor trailer? Collisions involving a jackknifed tractor trailer are especially dangerous and can result in catastrophic injuries and damages.

An important principle taught to all commercial operators is they must also have basic control of their trucks. That means to drive safely, a truck driver must always have control of their vehicle’s speed and direction. Now let’s take the safe operation of a commercial motor vehicle one step further!

What is a jackknifed tractor trailer? “Jackknifed” means when the trailer portion comes to an acute angle with the tractor. The term comes from a description of how blades of a jack knife form the angle with its protective handle. Keeping that description in mind, imagine traveling alongside side a tractor trailer that loses control and jackknifes, violently slamming into your vehicle. Imagine trailing a tractor trailer that jackknifes and comes to final rest across the travel lanes. In both scenarios you have nowhere to go. You will be unable to protect yourself. The results again can be catastrophic or even fatal.

The 2015 South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License Manual makes the key distinction between two types of jackknife: a tractor jackknife and a trailer jackknife. In both cases, the root cause is the same. So why do tractor trailers jackknife? Either the tires on the cab lose traction, and the trailer pushes the cab into a fold; or the trailer tires lose tractor and the trailer swings around onto the cab. There are many reasons why a tractor trailer jackknifes but many center around load securement and driver error.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a crash involving a tractor trailer that jackknifed, I would be happy to discuss all issues surrounding same. I will investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash and determine whether the driver error caused the situation:

1)      How fast the tractor trailer was traveling when it jackknifed;

2)      Was there severe/significant braking; 

3)      Was there significant skidding before the jackknife;;

4)      Was the truck overweight pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations;

5)      If there were inclement weather conditions, should the truck have been on the roadway and/or did it reduce its speed per the FMCSR;

6)      Did the driver fall asleep and/or be inattentive causing him to oversteer for whatever reason; and 

7)      Was the cargo improperly secured and/or loaded improperly.   

All of the above circumstance could cause a tractor trailer to jackknife and make the driver responsible for the event and crash. Call me as I would love to discuss and see how I can help.


Collisions involving a jackknifed tractor trailer are especially dangerous and can result in catastrophic injuries and damages.