Defensive Towing On The Road
Summer is here and there are a few things to remember when towing that beautiful trailer.
Whether you are towing a pop-up trailer or an Airstream or a Fifth Wheel Trailer, you’ll generally want to drive slower than you would your everyday car. Camping is about de-stressing not about how fast you can get there. What we have learned is a happy speed is 100km per hour (about 65MPH). Rarely have we travelled more than 550km (about 350 miles) while towing. Like the race between the Hare and the Turtle – “slow and steady wins the prize”.
What I mean by this is the fact that you are now moving down the road with an additional X-thousand pounds of trailer connected to your tow vehicle. So it’s a good idea to start slowing down sooner than you usually would. While it’s normal driving to look ahead – while towing its vital to be thinking – “what if?” It’s helpful to also add a couple extra car lengths between you and the vehicle in front. This will assist you in making smooth and controlled stops and avoiding making – brake slams = the possibility of a disastrous jackknife. “Yeah yeah, trailer brakes and brake controller will stop me! yeah yeah.” Good luck with that!
Parking “The Beast” Defensively:
Parking 50 odd feet of rig is not like simply pulling into any old parking stall at the mall. 50 feet + happens to be a beast to park anywhere. Parking takes a bit of planning. To start with, know where you can park before you arrive at your destination. There is an APP for that (in fact there are several) simply Google and then download on your “smart-phone” what best works for you. If you’re good, you can learn to parallel park – NO! I haven’t, but you can learn – seen it happen.
Backing Up Defensively:
The first thing we learned is the GOAL of backing up. “GOAL = Get Out And Look.” While Mona (the Boss) acts as my spotter and we have a Back-up Camera on Blue Streak coupled with great big tow mirrors on Red Dragon– nothing replaces the GOAL. If I have to explain this, I recommend a driving program which teaches the fundamentals of backing a travel trailer because it has a mind of its own. We have also learned that smart phones don’t always have service in the Boondocks. So we have a great set of Walkie-Talkies. Two words to remember – “slow = goal and communication = success“. See our in-depth Blog Post on Backing-Up
Defensive Leaving For The Road:
We call this the “Check List“. The check list helps us to make sure we don’t forget anything – such as putting down the antenna; disconnecting the shore power, city water, sewer etc. How about closing the vents, windows – putting away the “stuff” and securing all the miscellaneous stuff …. the check list is a vital piece of paper. I can remember when we were newbies not turning the water pump switch off before we left a campsite … needless to say its on the list in BOLD print. I hate swimming pools in my trailer! See our “check List” here
The defensive towing list can go on forever – just a couple more things to keep in mind:
The Weather – before you head out check the weather forecast. Wind and rain (snow if in the mountains) can have adverse effects on the road conditions for towing.
Believe it or not there are bridges and overpasses that may be lower than your Rig is high! So it is important to know your clearance requirements before heading out on the road. We use the “Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas” to check the route. Yes, we have found low bridges, especially on rural back-roads. Bottom-line, drive defensively means plan and check the route.
One last thing – 50 foot long rigs require wide right turns – Just Saying ?