Think a jackknife can’t happen to you? Think again! Jackknifing can occur to even the best and most experienced truck drivers in the wrong conditions. In this blog post we’ll explore why a jackknife occurs and how to avoid it happening to you.
In short, a jackknife occurs when your tires lose traction. This can happen for several reasons, but slippery roads and improper braking are the two of the most common. As soon as your tires lose traction, your wheels will begin to skid instead of roll, which can cause your trailer to swing sideways, or jackknife.
So, how do you prevent a jackknife from occurring? As with many situations, it’s better to play offense than defense. Check your mirrors when braking to make sure your trailer is not drifting to one side or the other. Always brake slowly and gradually, and brake before, not during, a bend in the road. If you do notice your trailer starting to jackknife, let off of the brake and try to let the trailer wheels regain traction with the road. Avoid transporting light loads, as less trailer weight means less friction between the wheels and the road. If you must drive with a trailer that is less-than-full, make sure the cargo is evenly distributed, low to the ground, and secure.