How to Handle a Jack Knife Skid – Trucker Safety Tips

Highway at sunset

There are not many situations scarier than a jack knife skid for the professional truck driver.

Most truck driver training schools don’t spend enough time teaching the skills needed to properly handle this type of situation.

Every professional driver has their own method for correcting a jack knife skid.

But if you’d like to learn how I do it, keep reading!

I’ve been a professional truck driver for about 40 years. I’ve driven all over North America in all types of weather and all types of terrain. 

I do know my method works for me. And it can work for you as well.

7 Steps to Correct a Jack Knife Skid

Step 1: Straighten your truck-trailer unit

When you start to jack knife, the first thing you need to do is get your tractor trailer straight.

Keep a cool head and don’t overcorrect.

Related >Eye-Opening Truck Driving Safety Tips That Will Save Lives

Step 2: Steer in the direction of the skid

If your trailer is kicked out to the passenger side, the best way to correct this is to steer into the direction of the skid on the same side (to the right).

It’s important to steer gradually toward the skid.

Do NOT turn the steering wheel hard into the skid.

Do NOT over correct. This will help to counteract the sliding movement and help to straighten the truck and trailer on the road.

Step 3: Take your feet off the pedals

The next thing I do is take my feet completely off all the pedals, which includes the clutch, fuel, and brake.

Step 4: Concentrate

Your entire focus at this point should be on straightening your tractor trailer. Concentrate on steering to straighten.

Step 5: Slow down

It is at this point, when I attempt to slow down the speed of the truck.

Some truck drivers will disagree with me when I suggest to use the jake brake on your truck at this point. Use your own best judgment always and what you are most comfortable with.

It is possible to use the jake brake on a lower setting if the roads are excessively slippery, as there are 3 settings on a Jacob’s Brake.

I let the jake walk the engine down gradually.

Related > A Quick Guide to Using the Jake Brake – Trucker Tips

Step 6: Feather the fuel pedal

Gently tap the fuel pedal.

However, do not do this until you feel you are regaining control of the truck.

I personally do not use the trailer brake to slow down when I’m in a jack knife skid. 

Step 7: Ease off the road

When you feel you are finally in control of the truck/trailer, you can slowly ease the truck and trailer over to the side of the road safely. 

Tanker truck on winter roads

What Causes a Semi Truck to Slide?

Most skids or slides are caused by excessive speed and poor road conditions. 

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the impending dangers when driving in foul weather.

Most of the time, these types of dangerous situations can be avoided by taking the proper precautions and driving according to the weather conditions, not the posted speed limit (well under the posted speed limit.) 

As a professional truck driver, it’s important to know how to drive defensively, should you ever find yourself in a predicament, where your truck and trailer unit, are sliding and you are losing control. 

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How to Handle a Jack Knife Skid Like a Pro

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