Recently Alabama.com reported that all eastbound lanes of Interstate 20 were blocked off near Brompton. The lanes were blocked off after an accident occurred involving an 18-wheeler.
Our Montgomery truck accident lawyers know that accidents involving large trucks can be extremely dangerous. While this single-vehicle accident did not cause injury to any drivers, resolving the problems caused by the accident still necessitated assistance from police and hours to cleanup, causing headaches for motorists.
18-Wheeler Jackknife Accident Highlights Risks
Jack-knifing occurs when a truck and the trailer that is attached to it get out of sync. As a result, the trailer attached to the back of the truck essentially folds onto itself, turning sideways. The truck, with its sideways trailer, can resemble a V or an L shape instead of the trailer extending behind the tractor.
Jackknifing happens for many different reasons but the most common cause of jackknifing occurs as a result of a loss of traction. The point at which the tire hits the ground is a static contact point because the road isn't moving and the tire itself isn't moving at that exact moment.
If a road is slippery, however, then the tire might skid along the road instead of gripping it. There will no longer be static friction because the tire will be moving at the time when it hits the ground, leaving no static point between two fixed objects. All that will be left to keep the wheel on the ground is sliding friction, which is not nearly as powerful as static friction.
When the tires of the truck's trailer have no static friction, then they may just keep sliding along the road and have insufficient traction to stop. At this point, if the truck driver tries to hit the brakes in order to cause the trailer to stop, the risks are further exacerbated. The wheels can lock and because there is no static friction, the trailer may swing outwards in a sideways direction. This is called jackknifing.
Commercial drivers need to drive carefully, watch the trailer for problems, and be careful about how they brake their truck in order to avoid a jackknifing accident. This is why only experienced drivers with commercial driver's licenses should ever be operating 18-wheelers or any large trucks. This is particularly true of trucks towing tandem trailers.
When the trailer of a truck swings sideways, it can cause the truck to tip over. The trailer that swings sideways can also hit other cars, causing a serious accident. In this incident where I-20 was shut down, it was simply lucky that there were no other vehicles in the path of the truck that jackknifed so disaster was averted.