Safe Towing Tips for Your Next Road Trip
Safe towing needs lots of knowledge, experience and some common sense. Since many people are not habitual about towing, they make serious driving mistakes that can lead to accidents. If you are planning to tow a trailer or an RV on your next road trip, you will find these tips useful to stay safe on the road.
Right Vehicle for Towing
A road trip is more likely to become a nightmare without the right tow vehicle. Today’s vehicles are lightweight and the engines are not always powerful enough to pull additional loads. You need to look for a heavier SUV or a large pickup for towing. To select the right tow vehicle, you need to know the towing capacity of the vehicle and the combined weight of the trailer with goods inside. The best tow vehicle will have a towing capacity much greater than the combined weight of the trailer.
Many people are so excited about towing their RV or trailer that they seldom check important things. Be sure to check the tires of the trailer or RV and ensure that they have the right air pressure. If you notice any cracks or signs of damage, get the tires replaced. According to traffic rules and regulations, all trailers and RVs need to have functional lights such as tail lights, stop lights, reflectors and turn signals. Before going on a road trip, ensure the maintenance of the trailer and the tow vehicle is current and the engine is in optimal condition. Here are some of the pre-trip inspections that you need to conduct:
- Make sure the bolts/tugs are properly tightened and the hitch equipment is secured and adjusted as per the height and weight of the trailer and tow vehicle.
- The safety chains should be slack enough to allow turns but should not touch the road. The safety chains should be tied in an X pattern.
Loading the Trailer
You need to load the front of the trailer first and the weight should be distributed equally on all wheels of the trailer. The rule of thumb to follow while loading a trailer is 60% of the tongue weight should be on the front axle of the trailer. The goods should be placed side by side inside the trailer and you should use tie downs and ropes to secure them in place. You need to also check for loose knots or slack in the tie downs after every 10 miles and re-tighten them.
When you are towing, the length of the vehicle increases considerably and you need to take this into account while backing up or taking turns. You need to ensure a larger clearance area before changing lanes or taking turns. Taking a wider turn will ensure that the trailer does not hit other vehicles passing by or that the trailer does not go off-road. Always drive slow and do not go over the speed limit of 50 mph. The braking distance increases considerably when towing hence you need to keep a greater following distance. The braking system of the trailer works gradually to reduce the speed of the trailer before bringing it to a halt. Hence, you need to put pressure on the trailer brakes for a longer period to stop the trailer safely.