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Big rig safety: How to avoid jackknifing in winter

Jackknifing is a big rig driver's nightmare. Your cab is going one way and your trailer starts going another. If you're lucky, you'll just end up bent at a nearly impossible angle in the middle of the road, disrupting traffic.

If you aren't so lucky, you'll end up on your side or in a roll.

Jackknifing is particularly easy to do on the harsh road conditions during winter. Here are some ways you can stop it from happening:

1. Check your tires.

The loss of traction is the biggest cause of jackknifing. If any of the tires are missing a tread or look like they're about to peel, replace them before you head out.

2. Learn to operate your brakes properly.

If you hail from the south, you may not have learned a trick that comes almost naturally among drivers in the north: pumping the breaks slowly on bad roads. Slamming your breaks is a sure recipe for disaster.

3. Watch your mirrors and pay attention to what you feel.

If you see or feel the trailer starting to slide or sway, ease up on the brakes momentarily and see if that's enough to stop the problem.

4. Whatever room you think you need to stop your rig, double or triple it in icy or snowy weather. Give yourself plenty of time to slowly pump those breaks and come to a natural halt. Otherwise, you're just about guaranteed to jackknife and possibly roll your rig.

5. Stay in the center of your lane. If you have a tendency to drift to the curb side where there's often a slope, get your rig under control and stay in the center of your lane. Any slight slope can unbalance your rig and make jackknifing impossible to stop once it starts.

If you are injured in an accident on the road, it's important to seek medical treatment right away. It's also important to explore your legal options carefully, especially if there were cars or other vehicles involved.

Source: Bay & Bay Transportation News, "How Truck Drivers Can Avoid Jackknifing," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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