Tractor-trailers, also called big-rigs and 18-wheelers, are one of the most common types of trucks on New Jersey roads. They are also prone to certain types of accidents because of their design. One common type of accident for tractor-trailers is known as a jackknife. There were 183 fatal jackknife crashes in the U.S. in 2013 alone. In order to understand why trucks jackknife, it is essential to understand how 18-wheelers work.
A semi-trailer truck consists of two main parts. The tractor unit is in the front. This is the part most people call a truck. Tractors can range in size. Some consist of a small cab with two axles. The standard configuration in the United States is a larger cab with three axles. Many of these 6×4 tractors are large sleeper units which have room for the truck driver to sleep and relax. Very large tractors can be used for military or construction applications.
The second part of a big-rig is the trailer. Semi-trailers come in many varieties. Some are simple box trailers. Others are designed to carry specialty goods like cars or livestock. Semi-trailers can also be tanks, used for hauling fuel and other liquids. Many other types of semi-trailers exist, but they all have one thing in common. Because of the way they attach to the tractor, none of these trailers have a front axle.
The tractor and the trailer connect to each other through a device known as the fifth wheel coupling. This receptacle on the back of a tractor provides a hole which accepts and traps the kingpin, a large cylinder attached to the trailer. This coupling allows the tractor and trailer to pivot at the point of connection while remaining linked. For this reason, tractor-trailers are more maneuverable than some other types of trucks.
With this maneuverability comes a large and dangerous problem. There is nothing to prevent a trailer from pivoting too far to either side. Jackknifing occurs when the tractor skids. Because the trailer still has forward momentum, it has to push to one side to keep moving forward. In other accidents, the trailer simply loses traction and swings around. This is called jackknifing. If you have been hurt in a New Jersey jackknife accident, you should contact an experienced trucking injury attorney.
When the trailer swings around too far, it can slam into the side of the tractor, creating a shape like a jackknife (pocket knife). At this point, the truck is often blocking the road. A trailer may contact other vehicles as it swings and a jackknifed tractor-trailer creates a large roadblock for vehicles to slam into.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a jackknife accident or any other truck accident on a New Jersey roadway, the attorneys at Seigel Law can help. Our Bergen County legal team helps injury victims collect damages from negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. Call us today at 201.444.4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.