Driving a vehicle is one matter and driving while towing a trailer is another. No matter how experienced you are as a driver, if you don’t have practice pulling a trailer it can be a surprisingly different experience. You should take extra safety considerations so that you can drive safely and keep others safe on the road.
In this article, we have rounded up a few simple trailer-towing tips for you.
1. Inspect and assess your trailer thoroughly before hitting the road
First thing’s first: inspect and consider the trailer you’ll be pulling. Be sure to factor in its size and shape, its weight, and the load it will be carrying. Your trailer may even be taller than your truck. Factors like these will definitely impact your driving experience, specifically your ability to make a stop and take sharp turns. For this reason, you have to assess your trailer before hitting the road, so you know what to expect.
2. Check your route and consider your load
Apart from checking your trailer, you also have to look at your route and plan ahead of time. Some roads, particularly those in congested areas, are not built to handle trailers or longer vehicles. Depending on the size of your trailer, some routes may have low overpasses or tunnels that must be considered. If you want your trip to go as smoothly as possible, you must plan what road to take and assess possible risks before you set off.
3. Take wider turns
When turning, the rule of thumb is to take wider turns at curves and corners. This is because your trailer’s wheels tend to be closer to the inside of a turn than your vehicle’s wheels. As a result, the trailer’s tires could cut the corner and put you into a dangerous situation.
4. Be wary when stopping, leave plenty of space to avoid sudden stops
Don’t forget to adjust your trailer brake based on its load so that you can have a seamless and safe stop before you set out on your journey. Another key consideration to make when towing a trailer is knowing when and how to stop. First, pay particular attention to your surroundings and leave extra space between you & other vehicles so that you can begin braking sooner, as your trailer’s added weight may have an impact on how quickly you can stop. Also, be sure to drive in the right lane on highways wherever possible to allow for stopping on the shoulder if you need to.
5. Take some training when you need to — and practice, practice, practice!
It is often said that practice makes perfect. This is no different for towing a trailer– practice helps ensure your safety on the road. You must get well-acquainted with accelerating, backing up, braking, making wide turns, and using your side-view mirrors while towing a trailer.
If you’re new to pulling a trailer and feel hesitant to get out on the road right away, take a trailer towing course from a professional driving school. Fleet Safety International’s Introduction to Trailer Towing course consists of four hours’ practical training with a driving instructor. You can use your own vehicle and your trailer in a safe, controlled space to help familiarize you with the process.
Here at Fleet Safety International, our driving programs aim to help new drivers, commuters, and commercial drivers learn to drive defensively using the SAFER™ System. Whether you’re looking for in-vehicle coaching for new drivers or coaching for a corporate team at our Calgary driving school, we’ve got you covered!