It can often take people several weeks of practice to familiarize themselves with the technique of safely towing a trailer.
Driving with a large, heavy trailer in tow can feel completely different from driving your usual vehicle on its own. Because of this, you have to take a number of extra precautionary steps and remain hyper-vigilant on the roads to drive safely.
Below, we’re going to cover some top tips for safe driving when you’re towing a trailer.
- Determine the Correct Towing the Correct Weight
You can’t just tow a huge trailer with a small vehicle. Before you can even begin to think about driving on the roads with your trailer in tow, you need to first calculate the maximum weight that your vehicle is capable of towing.
If you own a large truck, you’ll be able to tow a heavier trailer than if you only have a small Honda or Ford! This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong when they’re first towing a trailer.
Check your driver’s manual to identify the gross trailer weight (GTW) and maximum tongue weight that your vehicle can handle. You can then figure out the maximum weight that you can safely tow.
- Use the Correct Hitch
You will also need to make sure you use the correct class of hitch to safely tow your trailer behind your vehicle.
The right hitch ensures that your trailer is properly secured and will stay in place as you’re driving on bumpy terrains. It also means your trailer and hitch will last longer so you won’t need to head to the scrap yard to get rid of them or a salvage yard to find a replacement any time soon!
Based on the type and weight of the trailer that you’re towing, you’ll need a specific hitch. For example, the best fifth wheel hitch is ideal for travel trailers, whereas a gooseneck hitch is appropriate for horse and livestock trailers that weigh up to 30,000 lbs.
- Avoid Harsh Acceleration and Braking
When you’ve got a heavy trailer behind you, you’ll need to be cautious about your driving technique.
Your vehicle is going to need more time to come to a complete stop due to the increased load of the trailer. Therefore, you’ll need to apply your brakes much earlier to gently slow down.
You’ll need to accelerate more and be careful not to stall your vehicle when you’re driving uphill. Your vehicle is going to require more fuel to accommodate the extra load of the trailer, so you’ll need to accelerate more when driving uphill to avoid stalling.
You will also need to be particularly careful when you’re changing lanes, merging onto a busy highway, or pulling to the side of the road. If you’re parking up, make sure to find a space that accommodates the large size of your trailer without causing an obstruction.