Towing a Trailer Safely

  • by Arrive Alive
  • Nov 4, 2014
  • 296
  • News

10 Safety Checks

To tow a trailer that is roadworthy, the following safety checks are recommended:

  • Check tyres for minimum tread depth, flat spots, uneven wear, and objects caught in the tread. (Be extra cautious inspecting the small tyres on light-duty trailers!)
  • In many recent accident reports a trailer is found somewhere on or near the crash scene. Surveys confirm that not all trailer owners are fully aware of the safest method of towing cargo. Without experience and
  • Check trailer brake and light connections.
  • Ensure the tow coupling and brake mechanisms are well lubricated.
  • Jack the trailer up and spin the wheels, listening for rumbling noises which indicate worn wheel bearings.
  • Ensure that tyres are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level.
  • Check that wheel-bearings, suspension and brakes are in good working condition.
  • Check oil, water, brake fluid, and the battery --- ISN’T THIS FOR YOUR CAR? STACEY
  • Ensure the coupling socket and tow bar ball are matching size.
  • Coupling must be securely fastened and latched or screwed down when the trailer is connected to the towing vehicle.
  • Rear number plate and must be visible and not obscured.

  • Sub Head: 7 Safe Driving Techniques
    A few basic techniques that assist in safer towing:

    1. Avoid sudden steering manoeuvres and changes in direction while driving that might cause the trailer to sway.
    2. On hot days, beware of engine overheating on long climbs. Using a lower gear will keep the engine cooler.
    3. Use a lower gear when travelling downhill to increase vehicle control and reduce strain on brakes.
    4. Be gentle with the accelerator, brakes and steer smoothly, especially in wet or slippery conditions.
    5. Slow down well before approaching corners and curves.
    6. Driving will be more affected by gusts of wind and wind shift caused by large trucks when driving with a trailer.
    7. Look further ahead than normal so you can react to changes in traffic or road conditions.

    Sub Head: Correct and Safe Loading
    Remember to load correctly for safe towing!

    • The driver must ensure that the load inside the trailer is balanced properly. Unbalanced loads can cause the trailer to sway on the road.
    • Ensure that the centre of gravity (CG) is towards the front of the trailer, usually around 10 – 20cm ahead of the axle.
    • It is best to distribute 60 percent of the load over the front half of the trailer (nearest to the towing vehicle).
    • Contents must be evenly distributed on both sides of the trailer.
    • Once the trailer has been loaded and the weight is distributed properly, all cargo should be secured to prevent the load from shifting.

    Box: Is it Legal?
    Road traffic legislation has stipulations with regards to towing:
    • A registration certificate or licence disk.
    • The speed limit.
    • The towing capacity.
    • There are rstopping distance and brake requirements.
    • There are height, width and overhang restrictions.
    • Flags and warning panels are required where the trailer being towed overhangs.
    • There are restrictions with regards to loads carried.
    • Extra mirrors are required for towing large trailers.
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