These safety tips will help you stay safer on the road when towing a trailer.
By Dan Deary, posted in Trucking Safety on December 02, 2018
Towing a trailer is not a small task. Many of us tow trailers for family outings and trips, for our occupation, or even just to help our brother move…ugh. Whatever the reason, it is always important to keep in mind towing safety to help keep you, your family, and other people safe out on the road.
One of the first things to do is to check and make sure that your vehicle can tow the weight of the trailer. You can damage your vehicle’s engine if you attempt to tow an amount that is past its maximum weight. Be sure to properly load your trailer. Secure all loose items by either tying or strapping them down or putting them in containers that can also be strapped down. Once on the road, items that are not secured can fall out along the road and can be very dangerous not only for other drivers on the road but for you as well. Taking the time to pack the trailer can save you time, money, and frustration in the end.
Another thing to do is to make sure that you connect the trailer at the right level. It is best to attach the trailer to the vehicle at the same level instead of nosed down to allow for maximum towing capacity. However, if you are unable to attach them at the same level, nose down may be acceptable.
Once on the road there are some tips to remember to help you stay safe on the road:
Check to see if your trailer comes with devices attached to the electric brakes.
This will be helpful in case the trailer disconnects from your vehicle, which will allow it to automatically apply the brakes.
Allow Enough Stopping Distance
Watch several cars ahead of you and be sure to allow enough distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you to come to a complete stop safely. It takes longer for the machinery that you are towing to stop then it does for your actual vehicle to stop. In addition to avoiding sudden braking, avoid sudden acceleration and maneuvering as well.
Be aware of trailer sway!
Trailer sway is when you trailer or piece of equipment that you are towing swings back and forth. Large vehicles, downhill grades, winds and high speeds can all result in swinging action. If you find yourself in a situation where your trailer starts swaying back and forth, utilize the sway control unit. But first, take your foot off of the gas and apply the trailer brakes. Press the button once and the trailer should then align with your vehicle.
One last thing to be careful of is backing up. Jackknifing is when the angle between the trailer and the vehicle is beyond an L shape to a V shape, which can damage your trailer and the hitch. Be careful backing up, be sure to take your time and if needed, straighten it out and start over again.
About the author: Dan Deary is president of All Pro Truck Body Shop, a truck body repair shop located in Phoenix Arizona , specializing in commercial body shop and fleet painting services.