Key Points of This Article:
- In 2019, over 5,000 large truck-related accidents were fatal.
- One hundred of those fatal accidents occurred in Michigan.
- Jackknifing accidents are hazardous and problematic.
- Both truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers can take steps to avoid causing a jackknifing accident.
Accidents involving any type of larger vehicle can have disastrous results for smaller passenger vehicles. However, the occupants of smaller cars are especially vulnerable when involved in an accident with semi-trucks or tractor-trailers. Due to the larger and heavy nature of these types of commercial trucks, the resulting injuries are often severe and even fatal.
Tractor-trailers can weigh 20-30 times more than passenger cars and require distances 20-40 percent farther than other vehicles to come to a complete stop. Unfortunately, though semi-trucks have advanced braking systems to prevent accidents from happening, they often do not have enough of a warning to brake and come to a stop before colliding with other vehicles.
In 2019, over 100,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in injury, and over 5,000 of those crashes were fatal. In Michigan specifically, there were over 100 fatal accidents involving large trucks. One type of tractor-trailer accident that can have particularly tragic results is jackknifing.
The trailers that are attached to the back of a rig are not fixed in place; instead, they are connected by a hitch that allows freedom of movement. This hitch system allows larger trucks to make turns without the need to swing out too wide. Unfortunately, this hitch system is also how jackknifing occurs.
When a semi-truck is forced to come to a sudden stop, the momentum causes the trailer to swing out to the side. The shape created between the rig and the trailer when this occurs resembles the letter “L,” or a jackknife.
Jackknifing is particularly problematic because not only is it likely that the front of the rig will collide with another car or even multiple vehicles, but when the trailer swings out to the side, it also typically crashes into multiple vehicles. In some cases, the momentum from the truck jackknifing may also cause it to tip or even roll over on top of other cars. The widespread damage and injuries that result are what make jackknifing so dangerous and often fatal.
Recent Jackknife Accidents in Detroit
Though jackknifing can occur on metro Detroit rural and urban roadways, it most often occurs when cars and trucks travel at high speeds on Detroit freeways and interstates. In the past year, there have been a few disastrous jackknifing accidents in and around Detroit Michigan.
- In April, there were two separate jackknifing accidents along I-696. One of the incidents resulted in a pile-up with 12 cars being jammed together. The other involved a jackknifed truck that slammed into the median, blocking multiple lanes of traffic.
- In July, another semi-truck jackknifed and crashed through a median, causing all northbound and southbound lanes to shut down on Southfield Freeway.
Accidents similar to and even worse than these continue to happen in Michigan and across the country as more and more tractor-trailers are on the roads delivering their loads to meet the demands of our economy. At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, our Detroit truck accident lawyers offer a free consultation and are dedicated to helping injured people stand up to trucking companies and will help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Jackknifing doesn’t just occur because of truck driver error, but other negligent drivers can also be to blame. While truck drivers can undoubtedly do more to prevent these accidents themselves, passenger vehicle drivers should also be more mindful of how they maneuver around tractor-trailers.
Truck drivers can prevent jackknifing by:
- Maintaining a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles, especially during inclement weather.
- Slowly decreasing speed over time as opposed to slamming on the brakes at the last minute.
- Braking before a turn rather than in the middle of it.
Drivers can prevent jackknifing by:
- Giving trucks more space when merging in front of them. Cars that cut off larger trucks make it difficult for truck drivers to brake in time.
- Merging out of the way if you see a truck struggling to come to a stop behind you.
- Being more understanding of the slower speeds large trucks maintain instead of getting annoyed and speeding around them.
If you become injured due to a Detroit truck driver’s negligence, proving fault and seeking a fair settlement in your truck accident case to receive the compensation you deserve can be frustrating. These types of cases are very complex and a lawyer can be extremely helpful in gathering the evidence needed to prove your case. It’s important to work with an experienced truck accident attorney to review all the facts and evidence of the case and who has extensive knowledge of Michigan laws.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a jackknifing accident, the team at Lee Steinberg Law Firm is here to help. For over 40 years, our attorneys have handled a number of car accident cases, including those involving large commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. We understand how devastating the results of a jackknifing accident can be and will fight tirelessly to seek justice for our clients and get them the compensation they deserve.
Call our Detroit personal injury lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) to speak with an experienced attorney. Our consultations are free and confidential, and you’ll pay nothing until we settle your personal injury case.