Avoid Accidents While Towing A Trailer Behind Your Car Or Truck This Holiday Season

Posted on: 29 November 2017

If you're heading over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother's, Aunt Martha's, or your brother's house for the holiday break with the kids because someone in the family thought it would be great to get everyone together -- well, you can be excused if you're less than enthusiastic.

Trying to cram a couple of adults a kid or two, plus all the needed winter clothing, coats, boots, toys, and the holiday gifts you're taking along into a car that barely has leg room for a long road trip is nobody's idea of a good time. It might be far easier to rent a small trailer and hitch it to the back of your car or SUV for the trip. If you do, however, follow some basic safety tips in order to avoid a holiday car accident.

1. Take the time to get a demonstration.

While those small trailers are pretty easy when it comes to the "stow and go" part of things, the hitch can be another issue. Even if you think you know how to work one, take the time to get a demonstration to make certain that you know exactly how this particular trailer hooks and unhooks and how to properly secure it -- especially if it has been a while since you've used one.

2. Learn how to pack a trailer correctly.

Start with the heaviest items and pack them as evenly as possible, with a roughly equal distribution of weight on each side of the trailer. Then pack your lighter items. If there's room left over, grab a few quilts or blankets to put in on top of everything to keep things from moving around. This greatly reduces the risk that your load will shift and cause you to jackknife or roll when going around a curve. 

3. Drive slower and avoid passing when possible.

It can be frustrating to drag out an already long trip by going less than the posted speed limit, but it's still a good idea when you're hauling even a small trailer. In addition, you really don't want to pass any vehicles that you don't have to pass. 

Going too fast or changing lanes to pass another vehicle can cause your trailer to become unstable and cause "sway." That can unbalance your load if it's loosely packed or even cause you to tip onto your side.

It's important to anticipate some amount of sway while you're on the road -- you're going to have some every time you get passed by a big rig. The wind caused by the motion of the big rig will automatically increase the pressure on your vehicle and trailer. (You can have the exact same problem if you just happen to be driving in a winter windstorm or snow is blowing around.)

For safety's sake, keep a tight hand on the wheel but list your foot off the accelerator until you feel the sway calming down. 

Unfortunately, you can only control your own actions on the road -- you can't make other people take reasonable precautions. If you end up in an accident because someone else was ignoring basic road safety and hot rodded it around your vehicle and trailer, talk to an auto accident attorney today.