Winter in Virginia can bring miserable weather and plenty of precipitation. Even if the rain and sleet don’t turn to snow or freeze on the road surfaces, wet and slick pavement can still be quite dangerous for drivers.
For most drivers, the biggest risk will be increased stopping distance due to slick surfaces and loss of traction, although it may be possible at high speeds for drivers to lose control of their vehicle when the road is slippery.
There is another risk that could results in multi-vehicle crashes, especially on freeways and interstates. A large tractor-trailer traveling in inclement weather can potentially cause a crash that blocks all lanes of traffic and involve multiple other vehicles. Slippery roads can lead to jackknife accidents that can affect many other people’s lives.
What happens when a truck jackknives?
In a jackknife incident, the trailer of a commercial truck no longer fully aligns with the cab. Many times, these two parts of the vehicle will make the shape of a “v” or an “L” during a jackknife incident. The truck driver effectively loses control of the vehicle because of the two parts of the vehicle exerting momentum in different directions.
Nearby vehicles can get caught up in a jackknife incident if it blocks multiple lanes of traffic. Those directly next to and behind a commercial truck have the highest risk for getting swept up into a multi-vehicle jackknife crash.
Loss of traction is a common contributing factor to jackknife collisions, which means that wet roads on the freeway increase the likelihood of this kind of crash.
How can you avoid a jackknife incident in a smaller passenger vehicle?
You can’t prevent a jackknife accident from happening near you on the road. However, what you can do is avoid contributing to it by keeping a significant amount of space between your vehicle and any commercial truck on the road.
Trying to stay out of blind spots and to leave at least one vehicle between you and commercial trucks can help protect you from the risk of a jackknife collision. Maintaining enough space so that you can stop, especially considering traffic conditions, is a very important safety practice that can help you stay out of a massive, multi-car pile-up that results from a tractor-trailer jackknifing.