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Strategies to Avoid Jackknifing

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

California drivers may wonder how they can avoid jackknifing. Jackknifing is not inevitable even if it is already in progress, and there are several strategies a driver can use to avoid an accident.

Both professional drivers of tractor-trailers and nonprofessional drivers of vehicles towing another vehicle may be vulnerable to jackknifing. Making sure that whatever is towed has a low center of gravity is important, and this can be done by spreading weight out along the bottom of the vehicle. Inexperienced drivers may jackknife while backing up, but they can prevent this by placing one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turning around to watch how the vehicle is backing up.

Truck drivers who are starting to jackknife may be able to prevent it by releasing the brake. If the jackknife is happening due to a loss of traction on the trailer wheels, speeding up may help, but if the jackknife is because of sudden acceleration, releasing the gas pedal may help. Slowing down while coming up on a turn may prevent jackknifing. Drivers should also be careful with empty trailers and avoid overbraking as well as slamming on the brakes unless it is absolutely necessary.

People who have been injured in a truck accident may wish to consult an attorney. The truck driver may not carry sufficient insurance, or the insurance company may offer too little to cover the individual's medical expenses and lost wages from work during recovery. If the driver was on the job at the time, the trucking company might also be liable. In the case of a fatal injury, the decedent's survivors may want to meet with an attorney to discuss the filing of a wrongful death suit against the driver and the company.