Brad Pistotnik Law
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How Does Lack of Traction Contribute To a Jackknife Accident?

How Does Lack of Traction Contribute To a Jackknife Accident?

How does lack of traction contribute to causing a jackknife accident? What can truck drivers do to reduce their risk of these types of accidents? Any accident involving a jackknifed vehicle poses a significant risk to life and limb. When drivers lose traction, the risk of causing a jackknife accident increases significantly. Thus, preventing these accidents involves ensuring the vehicle's tires and brake systems are functioning properly and that drivers slow down and obey posted traffic laws and weather warnings.

The Role of Static and Sliding Friction in Jackknife Accidents

Static friction between the road and tires ensures that the tires remain in the correct position on the road. It may sound strange, but the tire is essentially static and unmoving at the point the rubber meets the road. This momentary friction is what keeps the vehicle grounded. The more static friction, the more control the driver has, and the less likely the vehicle is to slide out of the correct position.

Conversely, if the wheel doesn't have sufficient static friction, it can slide out of place. For example, when sliding on ice, rain, snow, gravel, or sand. Sliding friction is not as strong as static friction; thus, it is more difficult to control a vehicle once a slide begins. This sliding motion causes the misalignment between the truck and trailer that can result in a jackknife accident. Other factors that can contribute to these accidents include the weight of the truck, the curve of the road, steering errors, improperly secured cargo, and improper or insufficient application of brakes.

Preventing Jackknife Accidents

Because friction is the critical factor in causing jackknife accidents, truck drivers have a duty to other motorists to ensure their brakes, tires, steering, and suspension systems are in good condition. Drivers must also ensure their mirrors are properly positioned in order to monitor the motion of their trailer. When swaying is detected, or road conditions deteriorate, truck drivers are obligated to slow to a speed where they can regain and maintain control over their vehicle.

Of course, technology can also assist in preventing jackknife accidents. Brake sensors, load-sensing regulators, and traction sensors are designed to alert drivers when friction between the road and the tire decreases or when brake pads are overheating. These sensors can adjust vehicle speed and braking pressure as needed until sufficient traction is restored. Similarly, anti-lock brakes are designed to apply short bursts of brake power in order to generate the friction required to maintain and regain control over the truck and trailer.

Truck Driver Liability in Jackknife Accidents

Truck drivers are responsible for maintaining complete control over their truck and trailer. The driver is responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle, as well as their actions behind the wheel. This includes their application of brake pressure, their driving behaviors, including the speed at which they take turns, their driving speed, and the adjustments they made (or didn't make) in response to low-light conditions, poor road conditions, etc. When a negligent truck driver injures motorists, a personal injury attorney in Kansas can pursue compensation for their personal injuries and property damage.

Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik is a large truck accident attorney who represents motor vehicle accident victims in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. We can pursue independent contractors, trucking companies, and other parties responsible for your injuries and property damage. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.