Truck Accidents Related to Braking or Jackknifing

truck accidents relating to brakingAccidents involving large trucks can be caused by a number of different factors. Car accidents that involve large trucks and passenger vehicles are often catastrophic due to the extreme differences in size – both in weight and height – between the two vehicles. The large size of a truck, which can be twenty to thirty times heavier than a passenger vehicle, can affect a truck’s braking capacity and ability to stop on a dime in the event of a traffic incident. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can take twenty to forty percent longer and farther to stop than a passenger vehicle, and it can potentially take longer if the roads are wet or slippery, or if the truck’s brakes are improperly maintained. Sometimes a truck’s braking problems can cause the truck to jackknife, which may have serious consequences, including the death of those who are involved in the accident.

What Happens During a Jackknifing Incident?

When a large truck jackknifes, the trailer that the truck is hauling swings out, folds, and comes to a rest at a ninety-degree or sharper angle from the truck, resembling the angle of a pocket knife.  When these trailers swing out, they can potentially hit other vehicles or even pedestrians, causing serious damage both to people and property. At high speeds, a jackknifing truck also has the potential to roll over which can lead to an even more devastating accident.

What is Jackknifing?

Jackknifing usually happens when a truck driver suddenly applies the brakes, especially when traveling at high speeds. Upon sudden braking, the whole truck and its trailer can start to skid, which can lead to jackknifing.  The skidding usually occurs due to the complex truck braking system that is much different than the brakes in a passenger vehicle. There are three different braking components, and if one is suddenly applied to avoid hitting another vehicle, the truck can become difficult to steer, or some wheels lock while others do not, causing the truck to jackknife. Other causes of jackknifing include equipment or mechanical failure, taking a curve too quickly, or icy or wet road conditions.

Other Causes of Jackknifing

Jackknifing can also be caused when a large truck blows a tire when traveling at high speed. This past spring on the 210 Freeway near Arcadia, a large eastbound truck hauling cars jackknifed after its tire popped. After the truck’s tire blew, it slammed into the center highway divider, rear-ended some passenger vehicles and pushed them along the divider until the truck came to a rest straddling the divider with its cab in the westbound lanes. A vehicle that the truck hit caught on fire and spread to the truck’s cab. Fortunately, the accident was not fatal and five of those involved in the crash, including the truck driver, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Jackknifing Accidents

Jackknifing truck accidents can be devastating and severe. Regardless of whether the accident is caused by brake malfunction, a blown tire, or inclement weather, a jackknifing truck can cause significant property damage, severe injuries, and even death. If you are involved in a jackknifing truck accident, it is essential that you contact a knowledgeable Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney to discuss your potential claim.

The video below provides some quick tips on how to avoid jackknifing on a snowy or icy road.

Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney with the primary accident information site on the web, If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident involving a large truck, call now to discuss your case with one of our experienced injury lawyers at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for your free and friendly advice.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our client reviews on Avvo, Yelp, Google and our past verdicts and settlements.

Photos by

Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy. [cha 11.19.20]

Client Reviews
"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.