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Don't get hit by a jackknifing truck this winter

As we wind down on Summer 2016, it's a good idea to mentally prepare for some of the winter driving hazards Chicago motorists must face.

Driving in ice and snow is a common occurrence for those of us living in Northern Illinois, but that doesn't make it any less treacherous. One particular hazard to beware of is jackknifing semitrucks.

While trucks can jackknife in all types of weather conditions, these situations occur far more frequently when the roads are slippery. A truck is said to jackknife when its trailer and cab get misaligned in an odd formation that looks similar to a "V" or an "L." If you've ever seen a man's pocket knife when it's in the down position, you'll know what it looks like.

The risk of jackknifing increases on slick roads due to the tires losing traction, sometimes because a driver applies the brakes improperly. Instead of firmly gripping the surface of the highway, the tires skid across it wildly. If the driver slams on the brakes, they can lock up, which causes the trailer to swing wide and jackknife.

Truckers can reduce the likelihood of this happening by paying close attention to their mirrors, checking for a swinging trailer. Letting off of the brakes while speeding up just a bit can allow the driver to regain control of the big rig before it jackknifes on the highway.

Full trailers are not as likely to jackknife, so keeping sufficient weight in the trailer when the roads are icy is vital.

Drivers can take steps to avoid getting slammed by a trailer swinging wide while jackknifing. Always leave extra room between your vehicle and large commercial trucks when the roads are slick. Remember these heavy trucks need more room to stop and maneuver than passenger vehicles.

If you are in an accident caused by a jackknifed truck, you can file a claim for damages with the trucking company's and/or the driver's insurer.

Source: Bay & Bay Transportation News, "How Truck Drivers Can Avoid Jackknifing," accessed Sep. 09, 2016

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