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How a truck jackknifes

Jackknifing is the folding of an articulated vehicle so that it resembles the acute angle of a folding pocket knife. If a vehicle towing a trailer skids, the trailer can push the towing vehicle from behind until it spins the vehicle around and faces backwards. This may be caused by equipment failure, improper braking, or adverse road conditions such as an icy road surface. In extreme circumstances, a driver may attempt to jackknife the vehicle deliberately to halt it following brake failure.

Trailer swing

When a trailer skids to one side, this is known as a trailer swing or trailer slew. This can occur on a slippery road surface, often where there is a cant. This is not the same as jackknifing and is not as serious, as the trailer will move back into line as the vehicle continues forwards. The driver must be aware, however, that the trailer could slide up against parked cars or a guard rail, or that the wheels could slide into a ditch. This situation can occur especially when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded, and weather conditions cause violent gusts of crosswind.[citation needed]

Anti-jackknife devices

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See also