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Trucks share the roads in California with many other drivers and types of vehicles. Unfortunately, trucks still remain among one of the most dangerous types of vehicles out there. Today, we will examine the risk of jackknifing and what that means for a truck and the other vehicles on the road with it.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines jackknifing as an action in which something “turns and forms an angle” of either 90 degrees or below with its own self. In particular, it is used in application with tractor-trailer combinations. This is because the truck has a “hinge”: the point at which the tractor itself connects to the trailer it is carrying.

In a jackknifing incident, something causes the trailer of the truck to swing so that it is at a 90 degree angle (or below) with the cab – or trailer – of the truck. This can be hugely dangerous to other drivers for multiple reasons. For example, when the trailer is in motion, it can sweep across many lanes of traffic. This may cause other vehicles to run into it or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting it, which causes crashes behind them.

A truck that has jackknifed is also more or less going to be immobile in the middle of the highway. With cars all around them traveling at fast speeds, this can easily lead to even more pile-ups and crashes between other vehicles as they try to avoid this obstacle. In many cases, entire lanes of the freeway have to be closed down for an extended amount of time as the truck is removed.