Towing a large load with your vehicle such as a travel trailer, fifth-wheel trailer or cargo trailer is a great way to carry additional items without making lots of trips. Trailers are also convenient to use when your personal vehicle is not large enough to carry the items you want to transport. Motorists must be careful when towing, though, to prevent accidents and remain safe on the roadways.

Safe Towing Techniques

Before making your trip, conduct a safety inspection of the following:

o Make sure that the pin securing the ball mount to the receiver is intact and in place.

o Look to see that the hitch coupler is secure.

o The spring bar hinges should be tight with the safety clips in place.

o The safety chains should be attached properly.

o The electrical plug should be properly installed.

Additional considerations when towing a trailer with your vehicle include the following:

Your vehicle must match the trailer properly. If the trailer is properly equipped, it should perform safely under many driving conditions. Your vehicle should also have enough performance power to climb mountain grades without losing speed excessively.

Do not allow passengers to ride in a trailer while it is being towed.

Trailers must be weighed to make sure that the loads are distributed properly both from the front to back and left to right. In addition, the hitching system that connects the trailer to your vehicle also has weight constraints. To weigh your vehicle and trailer, look in the phone book under “weighers – public”.

Before making your trip, evaluate the weight distribution in the trailer. Hitch weights for travel trailers should typically be at least 10 per cent of the gross weight of the trailer to avoid complications. If weight in your trailer is not properly distributed, your trailer can fishtail across the lane.

All trailers should be equipped with reflectors, tail lights, brake lights and licence plate lights. Signal lights are also required if your vehicle’s signals are hidden by the trailer.

When backing up with a trailer, turn your vehicle’s wheels to the right to make the trailer go to the left (or vice versa). Then put your hand on the base of the steering wheel so the trailer goes in the same direction as your hand.

If the weight and hitch adjustments are correct on your trailer, it should handle well. However, if you detect any swaying, stop and check to see if the load has shifted and if the trailer hitch is secure. Also look for suspension problems and make sure that the tires are secure and inflated properly.

When it comes to insurance, we’ve got you covered. Call us at Alpine Insurance today to learn more about all of our risk management and insurance solutions for your auto, home and life.

This flyer is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice. © 2008, 2013 Zywave, Inc.

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