Summer time is the perfect season to load up and hit the road for a trip with family or friends. However, if you are planning on towing an RV, boat, or any type of trailer, you need to take extra precautions to stay safe. While it might seem simple to just put your truck in drive and head out, there are a handful of things to consider in order to have a smooth and safe trip.
Every vehicle has their own tow capacity, and you need to be aware of yours before hitching up and hitting the road. This information can be found in your manual, online, or through you manufacturer. The general rule is that the bigger the engine the heavier it can tow, but you might be surprised at your vehicle’s capacity because some looks can be deceiving. For instance, some small SUV’s only have a 4 cylinder engine, and even the heavier SUV’s tow capacity typically doesn’t go beyond four to five thousand pounds. If you are needing to tow a camper or large boat, you will likely want to use a truck with a higher tow capacity.
If you don’t have a lot of experience towing, especially for larger trailers or vehicles, you will want to become well acquainted with maneuvering the load before getting on a busy highway. Spend some time driving on less busy roads that have plenty of space, and practice backing up at an angle and parking. More than 70,000 injuries are reported due to accidents involved in pulling travel trailers alone, and the biggest cause of those accidents involved inexperienced drivers.
An improperly hitched trailer can cause serious problems on the road including injury or death. It is very important to be well educated on the type of hitch you are dealing with. A few things that come standard are safety chains and pin. Your safety chains should cross underneath the ball and attach from your vehicle to the trailer. It is also important to be sure your trailer lights are hooked up and working properly before getting on the road. Not only is it illegal to drive without working brake lights, but it is very dangerous as well. You also want to be sure that the license and registration are totally up to date.
When you are finally on the road, there are still a few adjustments that you will want to make to your driving habits. For instance, if you tend to ride up on the vehicle in front of you, you need to be aware that you won’t be able to stop as quickly as you would normally. This is especially true for very heavy tow weights. You will also need to take slower and wider turns and avoid driving in unfavorable weather, especially heavy winds. In general, you will want to stay either in the middle or slow (right) lane of the highway. While you might be wanting to get to your destination quickly, people often go way over the speed limit in the fast (left) lane, and you do not want to be hauling a trailer of any size at 75+ miles per hour. Take the safe option and drive smart when pulling a trailer!