Towing Safety: 10 Tips for Towing a Trailer
Towing a boat or other trailer load behind your vehicle can be a bit tricky, requiring different driving skills and even different ways of thinking.
But practice and a little foresight can make towing a trailer much easier. Review these tips for towing a trailer and take a few dry runs in an empty parking lot before you hit the road.
1.Plan your route. Make sure there’s proper clearance for all bridges and tunnels on your route, and try to stay on main roads for a smoother trip.
2.Take it slow. You’re pulling a heavier and longer load, which can be harder to control, so drive slower than usual, particularly in inclement weather. It’s best to stay in the right-hand lane and allow more space for braking and changing lanes.
3.Make wider-than-usual turns. A trailer’s wheels don’t follow the same exact path as the vehicle pulling it. In a turn, trailer wheels come closer to the curb – and striking the curb can cause the load to shift off-balance. Therefore, make wider turns to avoid curbs.
4.Practice backing up. To make the trailer go left, turn the wheel to the right – and vice versa. Driving in reverse while towing a trailer has a lot to do with what you’re driving and towing and the sensitivity of the steering. It’s best to have a spotter when you’re backing up.
5.Never let anybody ride in or on a trailer. It’s illegal and dangerous.
6.Budget for more gas. Because your vehicle is pulling more weight, fuel consumption will increase. Plan your gas budget accordingly.
7.Avoid fishtailing. Fishtailing occurs when the trailer sways back and forth because its load is off balance or you’re driving too fast. At the first sign of fishtail, brake slowly, pull off the roadway and inspect the load. If it’s shifted, re balance it. If it’s balanced, you were probably driving too fast. Slow down.
8.When backing a trailer into water, unplug the lights. This is a common mistake for boaters launching their craft. To avoid a dangerous electrical short, simply disconnect the trailer’s brake and running lights from the vehicle.
9.Get extension side mirrors. Your vehicle’s side mirrors may not extend out far enough to give you a full view of what you’re towing. If not, invest in extension side mirrors.
10.Don’t park on an incline. The weight of the trailer will put a great deal of force on the trailer hitch as well as the towing vehicle itself. If possible, park on a flat surface.
Find the boat or RV insurance coverage you need before you tow
Knowing proper towing safety skills can be the difference between a fun weekend trip and a costly or dangerous mishap.
Further protect yourself and your property by making sure you have the
coverage for your boat, sport craft or RV.