Ways to Handle Jackknife Slides

If you were to ask any truck driver what is the scariest scenario they could ever imagine experiencing, most of them would say losing control of their rig as it slides into a jackknife position.

Drivers who have years of experience follow these proven tips to bring their rig out of a slide that might be heading for a jackknife:


Quickly…Steer to Straighten the Trailer

When you feel your truck is starting to jackknife, you want to stay calm and immediately steer your rig to help straighten your trailer.

Steering Must be in the Direction of the Skid

Proper steering of a rig sliding into a jackknife is to steer it in the direction of the skid. However, the correction on the steering wheel should be done gradually. A sudden turn can overcompensate and make the skid worse.

Take Your Feet Off All Pedals 

You don’t want to apply either acceleration OR brakes during the slide. The best thing to do is to take your feet off all the pedals, including the clutch, fuel, and brake.

Focus Solely on Your Steering

Steering should be the only focus as you attempt to get the rig straight and under control. The deacceleration combined with the corrected steering provides the best options at this time.

Slowing Will Help 

Only when you feel the trailer straightening should you then gently apply pressure on the brakes. Some drivers will apply the jake brake at this time. It is a matter of personal judgment.

Gently Tap the Fuel Pedal 

Once you feel you are regaining control, feathering the fuel pedal can aid in ending the skid.

Ease the Trailer To the Side of the Road

When the trailer is under complete control, it is advised that you ease the rig over to the side of the road and bring it to a stop. Your jangled nerves will thank you!

At DriverSource, while all of our drivers are CDL-approved, these tips on how to correct a jackknife slide are good to reinforce periodically. Losing control of a big rig is something any driver wants to avoid, as it can result in truly catastrophic fatalities.


Bill D for DriverSource