You can’t treat towing a trailer the same as if you were just driving your car or truck on the road. With the added load comes the additional responsibility to make sure you follow the rules of the road for towing and practice proper driving and towing etiquette.
As we’ve shared before, towing safety begins before your tires touch the road and you begin your journey. From your checking to ensure tires are properly inflated and that your lights are working to loading your trailer correctly and securing your cargo, there are a number of steps to take to prepare for a safe trip. Once you’ve checked off all the steps on the pre-departure checklist, it’s time to hit the road.
Speed and Passing
Once you’re on the road, driving and towing etiquette comes into play. Remember to keep your speed at or below 55 miles per hour, as this will help you avoid trailer sway and combination disturbance. Don’t let the other drivers pressure you into driving any faster and let them pass you. If you must pass another vehicle, only do so if you can maintain the recommended maximum speed limit. When passing, make sure to be completely aware of the other vehicles around you and remember to:
- Only pass on level ground when you have proper clearance.
- Signal well in advance to let other drivers know your intentions.
- Downshift as needed to improve acceleration or speed maintenance.
- Make sure you have plenty of distance to clear the vehicle you have passed before changing lanes again and use your turn signal early.
Remember, you will be one of the slowest vehicles on the road when towing your trailer. No matter where you are towing, always use your turn signal when you are planning to turn. Never assume that drivers behind you or in oncoming traffic will know that you plan to turn or change lanes.
Give Other Drivers Space
Always maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Never ride another vehicle’s bumper, whether you’re towing or not. When you’re hauling a trailer your stopping distance is increased, and if you don’t give other drivers space you could wind up in an accident if they suddenly stop and you’re following too closely.
Leave Room When Pulling Over
If you need to pull over for any reason, such as to address a mechanical issue or flat tire, or to answer a phone call or message, be sure to pull a safe distance away from the road so that you can move around your vehicle and trailer as needed. This will also allow traffic to continue moving without interruption allowing other vehicles enough room to pass you.
Part of being a safe driving and towing your trailer safely is remembering the rules of the road and following good etiquette on the road. Always be mindful of others and be sure you are doing your part to stay safe while towing. For additional towing safety tips and information, be sure to check out your owner’s manual as well as our Safer Towing Resources page.