Jackknifing can refer to the situation in which an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer skids, and the trailer swings out onto the side of the cab, forming an “L” or “V” shape mirroring that of a pocketknife. Essentially, the cab moves forward but the trailer swings wide. This is a highly dangerous type of trucking accident, one that can cause significant damage to persons and property involved. It is not uncommon for a jackknife wreck to encompass multiple vehicles, sometimes three or more, especially when the trailer ends up across two or more lanes of traffic.
Jackknife accidents may shut down the road or highway for hours, if not longer. For example, this situation occurred in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area in January 2017, when Interstate 40 was shut down after a tractor-trailer jackknifed. In cases involving severe injuries or fatalities, police officers and investigators from agencies such as the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) will normally respond immediately.
Why would a crash of this magnitude occur? It may be due to one of the following reasons, or a combination of them: