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6.1.4 – Railroad-highway Crossings

Railroad-highway crossings can also cause problems, particularly when pulling trailers with low underneath clearance.

These trailers can get stuck on raised crossings:

  • Low slung units (lowboy, car carrier, moving van, possum-belly livestock trailer).
  • Single-axle tractor pulling a long trailer with its landing gear set to accommodate a tandem-axle tractor.

If for any reason you get stuck on the tracks, get out of the vehicle and away from the tracks. Check signposts or signal housing at the crossing for emergency notification information. Call 911 or another emergency number. Give the location of the crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially the DOT number, if posted.

6.1.5 – Prevent Trailer Skids

When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called a “trailer jackknife.”

The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:

Recognize the Skid. The earliest and best way to recognize that the trailer has started to skid is by seeing it in your mirrors. Any time you apply the brakes hard, check the mirrors to make sure the trailer is staying where it should be. Once the trailer swings out of your lane, it is very difficult to prevent a jackknife.

Stop Using the Brake. Release the brakes to get traction back. Do not use the trailer hand brake (if you have one) to “straighten out the rig.” This is the wrong thing to do since the brakes on the trailer wheels caused the skid in the first place. Once the trailer wheels grip the road again, the trailer will start to follow the tractor and straighten out.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #319 (1 of 4)

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If the wheels lock up on the trailer, the procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:

  • Use the trailer brake handle (if you have one) to get the trailer behind you again
  • Steer toward the shoulder and increase pressure on the brakes
  • All these are correct
  • Recognize the skid and stop using the brake

The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:

Recognize the Skid. The earliest and best way to recognize that the trailer has started to skid is by seeing it in your mirrors. Any time you apply the brakes hard, check the mirrors to make sure the trailer is staying where it should be. Once the trailer swings out of your lane, it is very difficult to prevent a jackknife.

Stop Using the Brake. Release the brakes to get traction back. Do not use the trailer hand brake (if you have one) to “straighten out the rig.” This is the wrong thing to do since the brakes on the trailer wheels caused the skid in the first place. Once the trailer wheels grip the road again, the trailer will start to follow the tractor and straighten out.

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Question #316 (2 of 4)

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When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is called a:

  • Lateral Jackknife
  • Trailer Jackknife
  • Tractor Jackknife
  • Pressure Jackknife
When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called a "trailer jackknife."
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Question #318 (3 of 4)

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When is a trailer jackknife more likely to happen?

  • When the air pressure for the brakes is higher in the trailer tank than in the tractor tank
  • When the trailer is empty or lightly loaded
  • When you use the service brake simultaneously with the engine brake
  • When the trailer is heavily loaded

When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called a "trailer jackknife."

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Question #315 (4 of 4)

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If you get stuck on railroad tracks, you should:

  • Call 911 or another emergency number.
  • Get out of the vehicle and away from the tracks
  • All these are correct
  • Give the location of the crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially the DOT number, if posted

If for any reason you get stuck on the tracks, get out of the vehicle and away from the tracks. Check signposts or signal housing at the crossing for emergency notification information. Call 911 or another emergency number. Give the location of the crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially the DOT number, if posted.

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