I’m not usually the type of woman that hides behind stereotypical male/female roles. But, when it comes to towing a trailer, if a man is present, then I’ll gladly let him drive. Why? Honestly, it makes me nervous.
Once, I was returning an empty trailer and rolled over the curb while making a right-hand turn. The car jerked and the trailer slammed down on the street. It startled me so much I almost jumped out of my seat. (Good thing I was belted in.) The stress of the situation was enough to make me never want to drive with a trailer again.
But, I’m beginning to feel a little ridiculous. I need to get over this irrational fear. I’m never nervous driving my own car. Why should I be nervous towing a trailer? The difference: knowledge, practice and confidence. I know the dimensions of my car and where all the controls are. I’ve had years of practice driving small vehicles. And, I’m confident in my ability to control my personal vehicle.
So, I took to the web to educate myself on the subject. First, I found this driver education booklet with tons of great information on “Safe Trailering.” On pages 23-29 you’ll find detailed information about how to safely drive with a trailer in tow.
Then, I watched this video that contained a lot of trailer driving tips, and great information on how to safely drive with a trailer.
Here’s a brief synopsis of what I learned about driving with a trailer, minus all the technical information about pairing the right trailer to your vehicle, loading ratios, etc.:
- When making a right-hand turn, advance slightly further past the corner than you usually would. This will ensure you don’t roll over the curb like I did my first time.
- When passing another vehicle, make sure you have plenty of room, or you could risk hitting the other vehicle with your trailer.
- Don’t exceed the posted speed limit or you could lose control of your vehicle. The speed limit for most towing situations is 55 mph.
- Stopping with a trailer requires a longer distance than with your personal vehicle alone. Leave at least 4-5 seconds between you and the person in front of you.
- Use a low gear to go up and down hills.
- If the trailer starts swaying or “whipping,” don’t brake or speed up. Steer straight and decelerate by taking your foot off the gas.
I feel a lot more comfortable with a firm grasp of the basic safety guidelines. Next step: rent a trailer and practice, practice, practice. The more educated you are about something, the less you’ll fear it. (Except for spiders. The more I know about them, the more I want to squash them.)
I’d love to hear your trailer “whoops” moments, as well as any advice or tips you can give me on driving with a trailer in the comments section below. Thanks!