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Pre-Departure Checklist | Speed | Stopping | Turning | Hills | Backing Up | Crosswinds | Passing | Responding to Sway

Driving Tips

Towing involves the interaction of a number of components; the driver, tow vehicle, and trailer. Each of these contributes to the towing experience and safety of the combination. The driver is responsible for selecting the right tow vehicle and trailer for the load, hitching the unit, loading, steering, speed, and braking. The tow vehicle’s tires, brake system, mirrors, hitches, lighting, and beyond as well as the trailer and its components such as  tires, lighting, brakes (where applicable) all effect towing.

Safe and proper driving is a critical piece of trailer safety. Drivers should be focused and limit or eradicate distractions.


Pre-Departure Checklist

 

Speed

Slow down! Most states have a speed limit of 55 when towing. Per U-Haul, speeds over 55 when towing can consume 35% more gasoline - so slowing down is not only safer, but more economic.

Planning on towing a trailer anytime soon? This segment of the Safe Trailering video program explains why you need to adjust your normal driving habits when towing. The Safe Trailering program was developed by U-Haul and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association.

Stopping

Even with adequate trailer brakes, if applicable, the tow vehicle will still have a greater stopping distance with a trailer attached. 

A general rule of thumb is at least a 325 foot gap (about 5 seconds) between your vehicle and the vehicle or obstacle in front of you. Prolonged use of brakes can cause overheating and loss of brake effectiveness. Giving yourself ample space to respond should help prevent frequent braking. 

"Safe Trailering." This booklet was developed by U-Haul International, Inc., in cooperation with the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA).


Turning

The turning radius of your vehicle will increase with a trailer attached. A gooseneck or fifth wheel attachment has a tighter turn radius than a traditional ball mount attachment.

When turning, swing the tow vehicle wider, giving yourself ample room for curbs, corners, or any other obstacles on the inside corner.


Hills

When going both uphill and downhill, shift to a lower gear. When going downhill, reduce your speed as vehicle stability decreases when going downhill. 

"Safe Trailering." This booklet was developed by U-Haul International, Inc., in cooperation with the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA).


Backing Up

Backing up can be the most difficult aspect of trailering. If possible, have another individual acting a spotter to aid with blind spots.

The trailer will move the opposite direction of the tow vehicle when backing up. The best method is to hold the bottom of the steering wheel. To turn left you move your hand to the left and to turn right you move your hand to the right.

Single axle trailers will cut more rapidly than tandem axle trailers. If you find you are turning too far, have jackknifed, or are otherwise situated incorrectly, pull forward and start again.

Once parked, make sure to have blocks ready for the trailer tires, avoid parking on slopes, and apply the parking brake. If the trailer is to be unhitched, unload the cargo first. Then make sure safety chains and the pin connector/electrical plug are disconnected.

Planning on towing a trailer anytime soon? This segment of the Safe Trailering video program shows you how to back-up when behind the wheel of a car-trailer combination. The Safe Trailering program was developed by U-Haul and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association.

Crosswinds

Decreasing speed and steering straight will lessen the effects


Passing

Passing in a combination (tow vehicle and trailer) will take more time and more distance to pass. As with driving a car, do not pass on a hill or curve as you will need to ensure there is plenty of clear roadway ahead. Your larger vehicle combination will cause a greater wind that will cause both your vehicle and the vehicle being passed to sway or move, plan accordingly, ensuring enough roadway space for both vehicles.


Respond To Sway

Gas off, brake off, steer straight and wait.

DO NOT attempt to control sway by turning the steering wheel as it will only make the issue worse. If you have a brake controller, gently apply only the trailer brakes.