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Arnold & Itkin LLP Truck Accident Blog2018FebruaryTesla’s Semi Prevents Jackknifing

Tesla’s Semi Prevents Jackknifing

When trucks lose control, they will often perform what truckers call a “jackknife.” Jackknife truck accidents are when a truck’s cab (the front portion of the truck where the driver is) turns to the side as the trailer of the truck pushes forward. The cause of jackknife accidents are malfunctions in the trailer’s brakes while the cab’s brakes are engaged. Jackknife accidents occur when the truck’s trailer is traveling faster than the cab of the truck as a result of skidding or coming to a stop. This results in the whole truck looking like an L-shape, also known as a “jackknife.” Jackknifes are one of the most common truck accidents in the United States and result in thousands of injuries every year. However, Tesla has reported that they have created trucks that are completely “jackknife-resistant.”

Tesla Stops Jackknifing

Jackknifes are terrifying truck accidents because they usually occur when truckers are traveling at high speeds. Jackknifed trucks will whip across freeways or icy roads, posing a threat to any motorists nearby. However, Tesla claims that jackknifing is “impossible” with their new technology. How can this be true when jackknifes are often the result of weather conditions that are out of trucker’s control? Tesla gave an explanation when they unveiled their innovation.

When a traditional truck breaks, the truck’s stop is completely dependent on the tires “catching” the asphalt or other material that the truck is driving on. The brakes clinch the tires of the car, which interacts with the pavement that sits underneath the tires. If the tires cannot catch the road (when black ice is prevalent), then the tires will continue to rotate and cause the truck to lose control. However, Tesla’s Semi takes the road out of the equation.

Semi is made to run on electric features alone. These electric features allow the “powertrain” to direct each tire through the “drivetrain.” What does this mean? Each tire has an independent motor that can slow down or speed up a tire’s rotation. The truck can “sense” the weight distribution across its wheels and will respond accordingly by actuating or braking each tire to maximize the traction control, which will correct weight shifts and driver oversteering.

The result of this system is a truck that will automatically calculate what it must do to stop itself from jackknifing with no user overrides necessary. Tesla reported that this system would work “regardless of the trailer or load that is attached.” Elon Musk went a step further and said that when operating this truck, “jackknifing is impossible.” Only time will tell if Tesla’s Semi will truly never jackknife.


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