I was recently invited to speak to Professor Scott Calahan’s “Transportation and Fleet Safety” class at Central Washington University. You see, he heard that U-Haul has been teaching driver’s ed students how to safely tow a trailer for nearly 40 years, and he wanted his college students to have the same experience. The difference is that his “kids” aren’t just learning to drive – rather, they’re preparing for careers in the oversight and management of jobsite and fleet safety in the numerous fields that require the use of trucks and trailers.
The “Safe Trailering” material was presented over two days to Scott’s 30 students. The first day entailed 50 minutes of classroom presentation, helping these young guardians understand the basics of towing, starting with the five basic components that make up a combination vehicle:
- The driver
- The tow vehicle
- The hitch
- The trailer
- The cargo
The students also learned about what makes for a safe towing experience. Tips such as:
- Slowing down
- Increasing following distance
- Understanding vehicle, tire, hitch, and trailer capacities
- Proper weight distribution (loading 60%/40% – heavier in the front of the trailer)
The following day was spent putting this knowledge to use, as we hit the parking lot with some hands-on demonstrations that were sure to make this experience a memorable one. With the help of local Washington state U-Haul leaders Manny Mendez, Matt Schaub, and Monica Howard, we were able to get five trucks and trailers on campus to teach the fundamentals of safely hooking-up a trailer, properly distributing the cargo weight, and precise backing of a tandem-axle trailer. This was a great experience, as getting out of the classroom and getting to do the work yourself creates a powerful learning experience, for it is always one thing to be told how to do something, but it is far more meaningful to accomplish it with your own hands.
If the enthusiasm of this group is any indication of their understanding of the subject, we’ll have a fine bunch of competent leaders in the field, making sure that everyone under their watch is capable of towing a trailer, ensuring the safety of you, me, and our loved ones out there sharing the road with them.
If you’d like more info, or have a comment on this article or the Safe Trailering material, please leave a comment below!