To date, various control strategies based on linear vehicle models have been researched and developed for improving lateral stability of car-trailer (CT) systems. Is a linear-model-based controller applicable to active safety systems for CT systems under emergency operating conditions, such as an evasive maneuver at high lateral accelerations? In order to answer the question, the applicability of an active trailer differential braking (ATDB) controller designed using a linear CT model is tested and evaluated, while the controller being applied to a CT system represented by a linear and a nonlinear CT model. The current research leads to the following insightful findings: the ATDB controller designed using the linear model can effectively improve the lateral stability of CT systems under regular evasive maneuvers at low lateral accelerations, but the controller is not applicable to CT active safety systems under emergency evasive maneuvers at high lateral accelerations. The insightful findings resulted from the paper will provide valuable design guidelines for the development of active safety systems for CT systems.