How to Avoid Jackknifing in Icy Conditions

How to Avoid Jackknifing Middleton & Meads

Quite honestly, jackknifing is arguably a truck driver’s worst fear, or at least it’s in their top five concerns.

Quite honestly, jackknifing is arguably a truck driver’s worst fear, or at least it’s in their top five concerns. The weather conditions in Maryland have been pretty dangerous this February, making it all the more pertinent for truck drivers to stay alert and do all they can to avoid accidents. Middleton & Meads wants all truck drivers to have trucking safety tips accessible to them. Here is how to prevent jackknifing in icy conditions. 

Jackknifing Defined

If you’re not a truck driver, then you may not be as familiar with this term. This term refers to when a truck cab and its trailer become out of sync with each other. The word itself stems from the truck cab and trailer resembling a folded-down pocket knife in an L or V shape. 

How Does This Happen???

Typically, a truck jackknifes due to traction loss. The loss of traction usually occurs when there is a slick road, improper braking, or both. As a result, tires skid across the pavement instead of rolling. This sliding friction is more dangerous on icy roads versus dry ones. When you slam on the brakes in this scenario, it can cause them to lock up, which creates a hazard for the rig’s trailer portion. When a truck’s wheels lock up, it can cause the trailer to swing to the side and jackknife. 

Three Tips to Avoid Jackknifing

  1. Check your mirrors often to check if your trailer is staying in place. If you see that your trailer is swinging at all, even slightly, you can avoid jackknifing by releasing the brakes. Increasing your speed even slightly can help you to regain control.
  2. Keep your trailer full, if possible. The more weight you have in your trailer, the more traction there will be, meaning that your trailer is less prone to swinging.
  3. Leave yourself enough room to apply pressure to your brakes. You should never slam on your brakes during icy weather conditions, or at all. During the winter (and all seasons), you should leave enough room between you and other vehicles. 

For more truck driving safety tips, keep reading our valuable content. We also have fleet management tips and recommendations to ensure your trucks and all of their components are running as efficiently as possible.  


Need to repair your truck or bus? Contact Middleton & Meads today! Middleton & Meads provides quality truck and bus repair, service, and fleet management for the Baltimore, MD area. We have over 90 years of experience in the trucking industry and will provide you with customer service like you have never experienced before! If you are interested in seeing how we can help your business, give us a call at (410) 752-5588 or visit us online today! For more articles and trucking tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn.