The sheer size and weight of HGVs means that they are susceptible to certain risks not shared by all other road users. One of these is jack-knifing, an exceptionally dangerous phenomenon that’s one of the deadliest type of accidents that drivers can face. Thankfully, Vision Techniques’ StopSafe technology can help HGV drivers avoid jack-knifing. Below, we explain more about how, but first we’ll explain a little more about jack-knifing itself.
What Is Jack-Knifing?
Jack-knifing is a danger faced by drivers of HGVs with two separate parts: the cab (sometimes known as the ‘traction unit’ given its role), and the trailer. It occurs when the HGV folds in on itself at the point of separation – the trailer swivels round on its joint, forming a 90-degree angle or even a V shape. It resembles the outline of a pocketknife folding in on itself, hence the name.
There are many different potential causes of jack-knifing. Just a few include:
The force of a prior collision
- Skidding on slippery roads due to adverse weather
- Sudden curves in the road
- Locking of the trailer brakes due to irresponsible braking, often at high speeds
This last cause is one of the most common factors. The excess speed of the cab coupled with the heavy weight of the trailer, results in a forward momentum that continues pushing the trailer forward, even when the cab has stopped. Not only does this endanger the HGV driver, but as the trailer swings outward it also puts nearby cars in danger, forming a mobile wall that can all too easily cause massive destruction.
How HGV Drivers Can Avoid Jack-Knifing
There are a few ways that HGV drivers can mitigate the risk of jack-knifing. Some are preventative; it’s wise for drivers to check their mirrors frequently for trailer swing, even if they don’t think it’s likely to occur. It’s a strongly recommended course of action after every instance of hard braking; braking properly is a major factor in preventing jack-knifing. Driving safely and sensibly, keeping at a good distance from the vehicle in front, will give drivers a good chance to anticipate trailer swing, and prevent jack-knifing from occurring. If the driver does sense that the trailer has started to jack-knife, one of the ways to deal with it is to increase speed to allow the trailer to fall back in line behind them.
StopSafe Drastically Reduces The Risk Of Jack-Knifing
One of the many benefits to the technology behind Vision Techniques’ StopSafe is that it applies the brakes firmly but gradually, so that there is very little chance of a trailer lock when bringing the vehicle to a halt. Ideally, a driver who is fully conscious and alert shouldn’t need to engage the StopSafe system, but in the event that the driver is incapacitated, another passenger or member of the cab crew can use StopSafe while completely safe in the knowledge that it will bring the vehicle to a complete halt without causing further destruction.
StopSafe is one of Vision Techniques’ most acclaimed products, and perfectly embodies our commitment to saving lives on the road. It can be combined with our other universally recommended braking technology, BrakeSafe, to minimise another common accident (rollaways), and maximise drivers’ control over their vehicles both stationary and in motion.
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