Everyone who has a driver’s license can tow a trailer, but not all have the skill and knowledge on how to properly and safely tow a trailer. Practicing trailer safety is important whether it’s your first time to pull a trailer or even if you’ve been doing it for most of your life.
As in any driving situations, safety starts with taking precautions. Never try to pull a trailer that is too large or too heavy for the vehicle that you’re going to use. It is important to match the vehicle’s power with the weight of the loaded trailer to be sure that the vehicle can take on the load without problems.
Before you proceed on your trip, make sure that everything is in order- the trailer is connected securely to your vehicle, all warning lights, brakes, and wheels are working properly, and that your vehicle is in perfect condition to go on that trip.
Never overload the trailer as this can cause personal injury and equipment damage. Don’t forget to use safety chains to avoid runaway in case of hitch or coupler failure. Properly install the chain by crossing it under the coupling to prevent the tongue from dropping to the ground. Just leave enough slack for tight turns and do not let the chains drag on the ground.
You have to be focus doubly hard on the road to avoid accidents and road hazards. It takes longer to start, stop, and pass when towing. Turning and backing up are different problems. It is recommended to practice driving with a trailer away from traffic to familiarize you with these changed driving conditions.
Know when to apply the brakes when stopping because stopping distance has increased with the added weight of the trailer. Sudden movements like braking or acceleration can cause swaying or upset the balance of the trailer and your vehicle. Drive on moderate speed-not neither too fast nor too slow. When you notice that traffic is building up behind you, pull over to the side and let the other vehicles pass.
It is quiet difficult to pass when pulling a trailer because your acceleration is reduced. You have to plan your pass carefully and allow for at lease twice the normal passing distance. Never cut in too fast, but allow sufficient space for the trailer length when you return to the right lane.
Whatever driving maneuver you do- turning, going around a curve, going downhill or uphill, always remember that you’re pulling a trailer. Keep in mind the trailer length in all your driving calculations and stay on the right lane as much as possible. Your mirrors are very useful tools in hauling a trailer. Always check your mirrors when you back up, but do not depend on them entirely to judge the distance to the rear. Once you’re parked, always apply the tow vehicle’s parking brake and block wheels firmly.