Summer time means a big increase in camping and road trips; many people choose a travel trailer as their mode of transportation and their home away from home. Towing mistakes can increase your risk of a travel trailer accident; follow the trailer towing tips below to help prevent an accident.
Use these trailer towing tips to prevent a travel trailer accident
- Always check the ratings/specs of your tow vehicle. Your tow vehicle (the one pulling the trailer) is only designed to haul so much weight (towing capacity). Overloading your trailer and/or tow vehicle can increase your risk of an accident when you experience related problems like overheated transmission, blown-out tires, broken suspensions and failed brakes.
Your tow vehicle’s specs are usually listed in your owner’s manual and on the sill of your driver’s-side door. Your trailer’s unloaded weight and weight ratings can be found on its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate. If you can’t figure out the combined weight of your trailer plus cargo, take the loaded trailer to a local vehicle weigh station or truck stop.
-Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
-Gross combination weight rating (GCWR)
-Gross axle weight rating (GAWR)
- Install a separate braking system. A trailer adds a lot of weight to a vehicle which means extra momentum and a longer breaking time. Because of this, many states require trailers over a certain weight (usually 1,500 pounds) to be equipped with a separate braking system. Trailer brakes improve control but more importantly will stop the trailer if it gets separated from the tow vehicle. There are two types of trailer brakes: electronic and surge. Check with your local jurisdiction to see if they allow surge brakes.
- Make sure trailer lights are working. Federal law requires trailers to be equipped with brake lights, taillights, turn signals and reflectors because the tow vehicle’s lights are blocked by the trailer. The lights are powered by a connector that hooks up to the vehicle’s electrical system. Drivers should check that the wires are taut enough not to drag on the road but loose enough not to disconnect during turns.
- Load cargo properly. A trailer that is off-balance because of unevenly distributed cargo is difficult to control. Cargo should be distributed evenly with about 60 percent of the total weight in front of the axle (but not too far forward). Items should be secured to prevent them from shifting and keep the overall center of gravity low.
- Drive like you are towing a trailer. You will need to drive more slowly and look farther ahead into traffic when towing a trailer. Allow extra time and space when changing lanes or braking. Use your side mirrors and/or a spotter when backing up.
- Check tire pressure on both the tow vehicle and trailer. Driving a loaded trailer on underinflated tires is dangerous because they produce more friction that can lead to blow-outs and rollovers.
- Ensure that your trailer is compatible with your hitch system. Check the owner’s manual for details.
If you were involved in a travel trailer accident, contact a car accident lawyer today. He or she will fight for the best payment possible from the insurance agency.
If you or a loved is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!