Traffic jackknifing

Trailer hitch

Do you know how to handle a jackknife? This has nothing to do with a pocket knife. We're talking about that frightening phenomenon when a vehicle pulling a trailer goes into a skid, the trailer swings out and the vehicle folds back to meet it.

Jackknifing is most likely when the drive wheels are locked-on reaching a slick spot, while the front wheels and the trailer wheels keep rolling. Usually it occurs on slippery roads when a driver takes a curve too fast, or when cresting a hill too fast and finds a stalled vehicle or other obstacle and must swerve or make a panic stop. It can happen too, with too much speed on a downgrade just before a turn or stop.

If you should ever find yourself in a skid and beginning to jackknife, steer in the direction of the jackknife very carefully. You must rely completely on steering—but don't over steer. Lay off the brakes and accelerator. Directional control is best when all wheels are rolling. When the pavement is made slick by ice, snow or rain, the experienced driver knows what can happen. They avoid jackknifing by adjusting their speed to conditions—especially on hills and curves, or whenever the traffic situation suggests that a quick stop may be necessary.

Trailer hitch
This document is intended for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document can’t be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedures or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser.  Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on that content.

*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting  manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
© 2022 Markel Service, Incorporated.  All rights reserved. 
Was this helpful?