Tractor-Trailer Jackknifes on Icy Bay Bridge

Hair-raising moment caught on traffic camera

By Cheryl Costello

The ending is a happy one, but the video will make you hold your breath.

A tractor-trailer, jackknifed on the Bay Bridge, slides dangerously close to another tractor-trailer occupying the left lane. Just in the nick of time, the jackknifed truck straightens out into the right lane and slides directly past the other truck with no collision.

The near-miss took place Monday, Jan. 3, when fast-falling snow made for dangerous road conditions and stranded drivers throughout the Chesapeake region. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), which maintains the Bay Bridge, MDTA police officers responded to 21 crashes and 66 disabled vehicles across Maryland that day.

The tractor-trailer incident on the bridge almost became one of those statistics. It was captured on one of the state transportation authority’s traffic cameras and posted to the social media site Reddit.

“What I believe he did was, he didn’t hit the brakes. He hit the gas and the truck straightened out,” speculates Steven Eskew, who is owner and operator of a shuttle service across the Bay Bridge.

Some members of the Bay-region population feel uneasy driving over the Bay Bridge between Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties—in bad weather or not. Kent Island Express, Eskew’s service, provides drivers to get behind the wheel of your own car to take you across the eastbound or westbound span. They cater to those who have a fear of crossing the bridge.

“We have grown men that will sit on the passenger floor of their own car and not even look out,” Eskew tells Bay Bulletin. The company even helps tractor-trailer drivers cross.

“Everybody thinks it’s all about the height, but for some people it’s not. We have people that don’t like the bridge because it turns,” Eskew says. Others are fine with one span over the other because the walls are different—on the westbound side, you can see through the barriers. Other folks don’t like the crest, which blocks their view of the other side.

Linda, a Bay Bridge commuter, calls the Kent Island Express most days of the work week. “I have anxiety of this stupid bridge. I call it a ‘stupid bridge’ because it’s too high. If they were to lower the bridge, I could drive over it.” She’s been using the service for about eight months—since she got pulled over for speeding.

“They thought I was under the influence. They got me out and said, ‘Oh she’s fine, she’s just got anxiety,’ duh. And then they told me about this service.”

Kent Island Express drivers take the wheel on one side of the bridge, get out on the other side, and customers return to their own driver’s seat and go on their way. The driver service just gets them over the “speed bump” that is the Bay Bridge—especially after seeing an incident like that heart-stopping swerve by the jackknifed tractor-trailer.