It will be the conditions on the road and the direction that drivers travel prior to a crash that influence the kind of collision that occurs. Directional forces are usually the primary consideration, but sometimes the type of vehicles involved plays a role as well.
There are certain kinds of collisions that almost exclusively occur with large commercial vehicles. Learning a bit about these unique crashes can help you employ better safety practices when sharing the road with big trucks.
Jackknife incidents require a vehicle with two or more distinct parts
Commercial trucks with a trailer attached are not the only kind of vehicle that can jackknife. A person in the truck or SUV pulling a trailer behind them could have a similar experience. What happens is that the part of the vehicle towed behind the main vehicle ends up traveling in a different direction than the cab. The trucker won’t have control over the motion of the trailer, and its weight could pull or turn the cab.
With big trucks, a jackknife crash can block multiple lanes of traffic and involve several other vehicles. Uneven loads, sharp turns or even high winds could increase the risk of a truck jackknifing near you.
Underride collisions almost exclusively involve large vehicles
In an underride collision, the momentum a vehicle has before a crash occurs forces it underneath another vehicle. These collisions can easily occur with a big truck, especially if a smaller vehicle hits the back end of the truck diagonally where the rear underride guard does not reach.
Side underride crashes can occur when a smaller vehicle slips under the trailer, often with tragic consequences. Although federal lawmakers have recently reintroduced a bill aimed at improving the guards that prevent underride crashes, current requirements leave most drivers vulnerable in a collision involving a commercial truck.
In both of these kinds of collisions, enough space between your vehicle and the commercial one could be the only factor that can keep you safe. Giving big trucks a wide berth could help you avoid losing control of your vehicle or being unable to stop if they jackknife in front of you.