Pulling a trailer on the highway poses a potential threat to other motorists. An oversight or negligence can cause severe injuries to you or others and damage to properties. Whether big or small, to keep trailers safe, there are some practices you can adopt for a less risky and more comfortable journey. Before you decide to tow a trailer, here are the five safety tips that must be considered.
- Proper vehicle-trailer connection
An understanding of the locking mechanism between your vehicle and trailer is essential. This consists of the tongue, chains, and hitch. It also includes of the electrical cable connectors for braking and tail lights.
With the use of the tongue jack, lift the trailer tongue above the level of your vehicle coupler. Then position your vehicle to be centered with the trailer. Lower the tongue onto the coupler till it is adequately aligned and lock it with the hitch pin. Also, make sure that the pair of coupling chains is beneath the tongue and attached to the vehicle with a D-shackle. Try moving your vehicle forward by a short distance to ascertain that the tongue or chains do not come off. Finally, plug in the electrical cables into the vehicle sockets provided.
- Safety checks
This should be done every time you are going to pull a trailer. You should check whether lights, signals and brake lights are functioning correctly. What about the tyres? They should be properly aligned in a straight position. Make sure all wheel bolts are in place and should not be loose. You should have a wide range of view of vehicles on your sides from your vehicle mirrors while in a comfortable driving position.
- Know your trailer capacity
Before you even think of hitting the road, make sure your trailer is not overloaded. The load on a trailer can affect the braking response, your turning ability, vehicle stability, and control. You should also go for uniform weight distribution. Slopes can cause your vehicle to tilt sideways.
- Understand the driving techniques
The skills required for towing a trailer are different from the ones you need for your everyday driving. The vehicle is longer and heavier. You should repeatedly practice becoming accustomed and confident. The important things to note are the distance between you and the vehicle in front, turning, reversing and braking.
Always keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you because the weight of the trailer can add momentum and delay braking response. Keep to the right lane of the road. Before you make a turn, try to overshoot. This creates enough space for the trailer to follow without the danger of colliding with other vehicles, pedestrians or roadside installations.
- Drive below the speed limits
For your safety and those of other road users, always drive below speed limits. The benefits include greater control, smooth ride, fast braking response and the ability to quickly manoeuvre sharp turns.