Safety Tips for Driving w/ a Trailer

Take time to practice before driving on main roads and never allow anyone to ride in or on the trailer. Before you leave, remember to check routes and restrictions on bridges and tunnels. Consider the following safety tips each time you drive with a trailer.

General Handling

  • Use the driving gear that the manufacturer recommends for towing.
  • Drive at moderate speeds. This will place less strain on your tow vehicle and trailer. Trailer instability (sway) is more likely to occur as speed increases.
  • Avoid sudden stops and starts that can cause skidding, sliding, or jackknifing.
  • Avoid sudden steering maneuvers that might create sway or undue side force on the trailer.
  • Slow down when traveling over bumpy roads, railroad crossings, and ditches.
  • Make wider turns at curves and corners. Because your trailer’s wheels are closer to the inside of a turn than the wheels of your tow vehicle, they are more likely to hit or ride up over curbs.
  • To control swaying caused by air pressure changes and wind buffeting when larger vehicles pass from either direction, release the accelerator pedal to slow down and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.

Braking

  • Allow considerably more distance for stopping.
  • If you have an electric trailer brake controller and excessive sway occurs, activate the trailer brake controller by hand. Do not attempt to control trailer sway by applying the tow vehicle brakes; this will generally make the sway worse.
  • Always anticipate the need to slow down. To reduce speed, shift to a lower gear and press the brakes lightly.

Acceleration and Passing

  • When passing a slower vehicle or changing lanes, signal well in advance and make sure you allow extra distance to clear the vehicle before you pull back into the lane.
  • Pass on level terrain with plenty of clearance. Avoid passing on steep upgrades or downgrades.
  • If necessary, downshift for improved acceleration or speed maintenance.
  • When passing on narrow roads, be careful not to go onto a soft shoulder. This could cause your trailer to jackknife or go out of control.

Downgrades and Upgrades

  • Downshift to assist with braking on downgrades and to add power for climbing hills.
  • On long downgrades, apply brakes at intervals to keep speed in check. Never leave brakes on for extended periods of time or they may overheat.
  • Some tow vehicles have specifically calibrated transmission tow-modes. Be sure to use the tow-mode recommended by the manufacturer.

Backing Up

  • Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. To turn left, move your hand left. To turn right, move your hand right. Back up slowly. Because mirrors cannot provide all of the visibility you may need when backing up, have someone outside at the rear of the trailer to guide you, whenever possible.
  • Use slight movements of the steering wheel to adjust direction. Exaggerated movements will cause greater movement of the trailer. If you have difficulty, pull forward and realign the tow vehicle and trailer and start again.

Parking

  • Try to avoid parking on grades. If possible, have someone outside to guide you as you park. Once stopped, but before shifting into Park, have someone place blocks on the downhill side of the trailer wheels. Apply the parking brake, shift into Park, and then remove your foot from the brake pedal. Following this parking sequence is important to make sure your vehicle does not become locked in Park because of extra load on the transmission. For manual transmissions, apply the parking brake and then turn the vehicle off in either first or reverse gear.
  • When uncoupling a trailer, place blocks at the front and rear of the trailer tires to ensure that the trailer does not roll away when the coupling is released.
  • An unbalanced load may cause the tongue to suddenly rotate upward; therefore, before un-coupling, place jack stands under the rear of the trailer to prevent injury.

 

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/Equipment/towing/safety_tips.htm

Hitch Chart

Tow Vehicles/Trailers

Class I Class II Class III Class III Class IV
 Class I
2,000 lbs. (GTW)
200 lbs. (TW)
 Class II
3,500 lbs. (GTW)
300 lbs. (TW)
 Class III
3,500 – 6,000 lbs. (GTW)
350 – 600 lbs. (TW)
 Class III
4,000 lbs. (GTW)
350 lbs. (TW)

 Class IV
5,000 – 12,000 lbs.
(GTW)
500 – 1,200 lbs.
(TW)

Weight-Carrying Weight-Distributing
Subcompact /
Compact Cars
Subcompact/Compact Cars
BulletClass I

BulletSportframe

BulletSportframe
Deluxe
Mid-Size Cars /
Small Pickups
Mid-Size Cars/Small Pickups

BulletClass I

BulletSportframe

BulletSportframe
Deluxe

BulletClass II Frame
Hitch

BulletClass III
Receiver

BulletClass III
Weight-Distributing
Hitch

MinivansMinivans BulletClass I

BulletSportframe

BulletClass II Frame
Hitch

BulletClass III
Receiver

BulletClass III
Weight-Distributing
Hitch

Full-Size Cars, Pickups, Vans, Utility VehiclesFull-Size Cars, Pickups,Vans, Utility Vehicles BulletClass I

BulletSportframe

BulletClass II Frame
Hitch

BulletClass III
Receiver

BulletClass III
Weight-Distributing
Hitch

BulletClass IV
Weight-Distributing
Hitch

NOTE: This chart is a general guide, and the specific weights and capacities of the actual trailer, tow vehicle and available hitch must be known in each case.
CAUTION: Class I Hitches are not to be used for tandem axle trailers, horse trailers, or house-type travel trailers regardless of weight.

 

 

15 Horse Trailer Safety Tips

1. Drive carefully. With operator error factors, such as driving too fast, causing the majority of trailer accidents, it’s imperative for you to be very careful and remain attentive. Drive as though you have a cup of water on the floorboard of your vehicle, and stay slightly under the speed limit to make allowances for adverse driving conditions. Double the following distance recommended for passenger cars. Maintain that distance even when cars cut in front of you.

2. Hang up, and pay attention. Avoid talking on a cell phone while pulling a trailer. Transportation experts have determined that talking on a cell phone while driving proves to be just as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol.

3. Pull over safely. If your vehicle becomes disabled, continue driving, whenever possible, until you can pull over to a safe area. Do this even if you have a flat tire, and it means destroying a wheel. Wheels can be easily replaced. Stopping on the shoulder is extremely dangerous, particularly on an interstate highway, and can put you, your horse, and emergency responders at great risk. Pull over on the grass as much as possible, away from the white line.

4.Use your headlights. Drive with the headlights on at all times to increase your visibility.

5. Use reflective material. Apply reflective material to the back of your trailer. If you lose trailer lighting or experience an electrical failure, this material will help other drivers see you as they approach.

6. Replace your tires. Replace your tow-vehicle and trailer tires every three to five years regardless of mileage. Make sure that tires are rated to support more than the gross weight of the trailer and its contents. Check the air pressure in all tires (tow vehicle, trailer, and spare) at least every 30 days. Purchase a high-quality air pressure gauge, and learn how to operate it.

7. Check your inside dually tires. If you pull your trailer with a dually truck, check the inside tires for wear. Since these tires are “hidden” behind the outside tires, they’re easy to neglect. Also check the inside tires’ air pressure. Even if an inside tire is completely flat, it’ll be supported by the outside tire, making it appear properly inflated.

8. Leave tire-changing to the pros. Even if you know how to change a tire, don’t do it by yourself if you have an on-the-road breakdown; call for professional help. Your life is worth the time waiting for help.

9. Maintain your vehicle and trailer. Perform regular maintenance on your tow vehicle and trailer. Have your trailer wiring inspected for uninsulated, loose, and/or exposed wires, and poor connections. This applies to old and new trailers alike. New trailers aren’t trouble-free; inspect them closely. Have your trailer axles serviced annually or every 6,000 miles, whichever

10. Use ICE. Make use of the ICE program; ICE stands for “in case of emergency.” This simple program is designed to help emergency responders identify victims and determine who needs to be notified. Make it easy for first responders to know who to contact for information on handling your horse: Program an entry into your cell phone called “ICE – Horse.” Key in the contact information of someone with the authority to make decisions about your horse’s care, should you become incapacitated.

11. Draw up a power-of-attorney document. In conjunction with the ICE program, initiate a power-of-attorney document with a trusted friend or relative. If you become incapacitated, this will provide for your horse’s emergency medical treatment. Also, prepare the corresponding Notice to Emergency Responders document. Keep copies of both documents in the glove box of your tow vehicle.

12. Hitch up safely. Improper hitching is a common cause of trailer accidents. Use a hitch that’s the correct type, size, and rating to match the coupler. Make sure the hitch is properly installed onto your towing vehicle. Securely fasten the safety chains and breakaway switch actuating chain.

13. Balance your load. An unbalanced load can cause a trailer to overturn in an accident. When loading your trailer, load the heaviest cargo on the left. If you’re loading only one horse, load him on the left side of the trailer. After loading, secure trailer doors and hatches.

14. Use protective gear. To help ensure your horse’s safety, always apply shipping boots and a head bumper.

15. Carry a first-aid kit. Carry a current veterinarian-approved first aid kit.

 

http://trailridermag.com/article/15-horse-trailer-safety-tips-15077

Trailering tips for you and your horse

The following list of suggestions should help make trailering easier for you and your Horse:

  • Wear gloves and boots when you are loading and unloading Horses.
  • If the horse trailer is dark inside when you are loading, open the doors and turn on the lights to increase visibility.
  • If you are having trouble loading a Horse, at least ten well-meaning bystanders will usually show up to help you. Thank them for offering to help but ask them all to leave except those who you know will be able to help. Too many cooks in the kitchen can really make a bad situation worse.
  • Make sure there are no hazards near the horse trailer (i.e. farm machinery, fence posts, etc.) when you are loading and unloading.
  • Don’t let door covers stick out the sides where a Horse or handler could get bumped in the head.
  • If two or more Horses are being unloaded from the trailer, keep at least one Horse in sight of the last Horse until he has also been safely unloaded. The one that is left on the trailer may panic and rush off to quickly. This is more of a problem with inexperienced horses.
  • If you are hauling your Horse in someone else’s trailer, do your own safety check.
  • Don’t depend on someone else for your safety and the safety of your Horse. If you are hauling someone else’s Horse in your trailer, insist the horse wear protective bandages, and agree in advance who will be responsible in the event of injury to the Horse or damage to the trailer.
  • Check with the insurance company to see who is covered for what.
  • Don’t travel alone if you can help it.
  • Never lead a Horse into the trailer if you do not have an easy escape route.
  • Never get into a trailer with a panicked Horse, and don’t open the door if there is a chance the Horse could bolt out of the door onto the highway.
  • Never put a Horse into a trailer that is unhitched, or unhitch a trailer while the Horses are still in it.
  • Don’t use tranquilizers unless you know how. Improper use of tranquilizers can cause death. Discuss the use of tranquilizers with your veterinarian.

http://www.usrider.org/article/additional-safety-suggestions-27831

Trailer Prep Tips for Travel Season

  1. Remove and inspect all wheels and hubs or brake drums.
  2. Inspect suspension for wear.
  3. Check tightness of hanger bolt, shackle bolt and U-bolt nuts per recommended torque values.
  4. Check brake linings, brake drums and armature faces for excessive wear or scoring.
  5. Check brake magnetic coil with an ohmmeter. The magnetic coil should check 3.2 ohms (+/- 0.3ohms). If shorted or out of tolerance, replace.
  6. Lubricate all brake moving parts, using a high temperature brake lubricant.
  7. Remove any rust from braking surface and armature surface of drums.
  8. Inspect oil or grease seals for wear or nicks. Replace if necessary.
  9. Inspect and grease wheel bearings.

 

In addition to these recommendations, USRider advises horse owners to check all trailer tires, (including spares) for signs of dry rot, correct air pressure, faulty air valves, uneven tire wear, overall tire wear and damage. Invest in a high-quality air pressure gauge – learn how to use it – and inspect tire pressure before each trip. Always replace tires if worn or damaged. In addition, tires should be replaced every three to five years regardless of mileage. When replacing tires, always replace the valve stems. Only high quality tires specifically designed and rated for trailers should be used – never use retread or automobile tires on a horse trailer. Think of it this way: Quality tires are like fine leather shoes, they only hurt once – when you pay for them.

 

It is also important to service the wheel bearings annually, or every 12,000 miles, regardless of mileage, due to moisture build-up. Keep a spare set of wheel bearings in your trailer in case of premature failure. Be sure to inspect trailer wiring and lighting; inspect door latches and grease the doors; inspect the floor (be sure to remove any rubber mats so the entire floor can be examined); and inspect and lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts. If the trailer has been sitting for a while, check for wasp nests, spider webs and any other creatures that may have made a new home.

 

https://www.usrider.org/article/usrider-trailer-preparation-tips-travel-season-27876