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Truckers should avoid jackknifing on slick roads

In the halcyon days of summer heading into the Labor Day weekend, it's hard to imagine all of the ice and snow that a northern Illinois winter inevitably brings, but Chicago residents know all too well to soak up these rays of summer sunshine while they last.

Winter driving is full of risks for motorists, and one risk that is enhanced by icy roads is the danger of jackknifing trucks. While there are increased potentials for this type of mishap on icy roads, trucks jackknife on the highway during all months and weather conditions.

When a truck jackknifes, the trailer and cab get out of sync, and wind up either in a "V" or "L" shape on the highway. The name comes from the positions' resemblance to a folding pocket knife. These incidents typically occur when a truck loses traction, either from road conditions or not braking properly.

When tires skid across pavement instead of smoothly rolling, slamming on the brakes is particularly dangerous. If the wheels lock, the trailer swings to one side, causing the jackknife.

Some truck drivers cause jackknife situations while backing up. Those type of scenarios are not as deadly for motorists because they typically occur in controlled areas with little traffic and happen at a slower rate.

Truck drivers can avoid jackknifing by checking their mirrors frequently and being alert for signs of the trailer swaying. Releasing the brakes and slightly increasing speed can help drivers regain control of their big rigs.

Full trailers are less likely to jackknife, so keeping as much weight in the trailer reduces the tendency of the tractor to swing wide.

When roads are slick from rain or ice, it's vital that truckers leave enough room to brake. They should never slam on the brakes on slick roads and should always leave extra room between them and other motorists.

If you were injured due to an accident involving a jackknifed truck, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Source: Bay & Bay, "How Truck Drivers Can Avoid Jackknifing," accessed Aug. 31, 2016

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