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Pulling a Trailer Safely

Photo of a Trailer

Photo of boat trailer

Photo of trailer hitch

Photo of safety chain

Photo of house trailer

Pulling a Trailer

Trailers come in many shapes and sizes. Pulling a trailer requires extra care and attention. A trailer puts extra weight on your vehicle and increases the space you need to drive and stop safely. Trailer safety involves some simple and important rules.

A trailer must be registered and licensed before it can be used on the road.

Before using your trailer, make sure it is in safe operating condition. Inspect the lights, tires, brakes (if equipped), bearings, safety chains and hitch.. The law requires brakes on trailers that weigh 1360 kg (3000 lb) or more.

Use the correct class of trailer hitch on your vehicle. (Class I — up to 2000 lb; Class II — up to 3500 lb; Class III — up to 5000 lb; Class IV — 5000 to 10000 lb) Repair or replace broken or worn out hitches. Contact a trailer hitch retailer for more information.

Thinking of buying a trailer? Consider the size, power and condition of your vehicle. Trailer dealers can help match your vehicle with the right type of trailer and the proper hitch system.

You must have two separate means of attachment between your vehicle and the trailer. Safety chains should be crossed under the tongue to prevent the tongue from dropping to the road should the primary hitch accidentally disconnect. It is recommended that chain hooks have latches or devices that prevent accidental disconnect. The breaking strength of each chain should equal the gross weight of the towed trailer. (See: Farm Vehicles and Equipment and The Highway Traffic Act, Appendix A - chain grades charts.) Chains are required for goose neck type trailers that utilize a ball and socket type hitch. Fifth-wheel type hitches that have safety latches do not require safety chains.

When attaching the trailer to a vehicle, make sure it is hitched securely. The trailer tongue should be snug on the ball when locked. Never overload the trailer. Overloading or poor load distribution can cause serious swaying and separation when driving and possible tire, wheel bearing and axle failure. Also, the law requires that loose objects be covered with a tarp and everything be strapped down so nothing can bounce or fly off.

Adjust vehicle mirrors to clearly see traffic approaching from behind. Keep the load low. Use extension mirrors if necessary.

It is against the law to tow more than one trailer behind your vehicle unless using a commercial vehicle. You cannot carry people in a house or boat trailer.

You cannot accelerate as fast when towing a trailer, or stop as quickly. Maintain a speed that avoids sudden stops and slow-downs. Be alert, increase your following distance, keep out of fast lanes of traffic and always use your signals when passing or turning.

Road Safety. It starts with you.


See also: Determining Registered Gross Weights for Trucks Towing Recreational and Light Duty Trailers