Spring is in the air and many of us are getting ready to hit the road with our RV’s for family vacations. Understanding some basic principles about trailer safety will ensure you have a memorable, safe vacation. We tow a 5th wheel trailer for our MBIntel Safety Tours and have had a few close calls. We want everyone to have a wonderful and safe experience while traveling with your families.
Video Courtesy CaravanPlus.com.au
Proper Loading for Trailer Safety
In the video above, you see an awful situation. A driver looses control of the vehicle while driving. Obviously, this is very dangerous and not what anyone wants while they are trying to have a good time. One of the main ways to avoid this situation is to properly load your trailer.
Know Your Limits
First and foremost, understand what weights your trailer is rated for and do not exceed those limits. Unfortunately, sometimes we try to bring everything and the kitchen sink along with us on vacations. Limit your packing to only those things that you will need for this trip.
Don’t forget that whatever is in your holding tanks can weigh a lot. Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. If you have a 50 gallon fresh water tank, that is an additional 417 pounds. Lets imagine you have fresh, black, and grey tanks that are each 50 gallons. If they were all full, you would have an additional 1251 pounds. For many light duty travel trailers, you are already outside of your max weight limit. If at all possible, dump your tanks prior to towing and only keep the water you need in your fresh tank to get you to your destination. Of course, this will also help with your fuel consumption making it a little cheaper when you fill up and allowing you to go a little farther between fueling.
Photo courtesy Fifth Wheel Street
Make sure you follow your trailer’s factory weight distribution instructions. As you saw in the video above, improperly loading a trailer can make things very dangerous. Typically, more weight needs to be in the front of the trailer than in the middle, and especially more than in the rear. Be very careful about making any modifications to your trailer like adding a generator, storage box, or motorcycles to the rear of the trailer. These items can drastically change how your trailer handles. If the weight distribution is incorrect on you your trailer, it is much more likely to handle poorly in high winds, windy roads, or when you are near other large vehicles such as semi trucks.
There are a few other things we’d like to mention regarding trailer safety. Make sure you are not drowsy while driving. Take frequent breaks on longer trips. Make sure your tow vehicle is properly maintained and that it is rated to tow the size of your trailer. Do not speed, plan to take your time and arrive alive. Ensure that your tires are in good condition and they are the proper tires, rated for your trailer. Most importantly, make great memories with your family. Don’t be afraid to get out there and explore, just make sure you have properly prepared for your adventures.