With the NHTSA reporting over 50,000 towing accidents annually, increasing towing safety should be a top priority for all RVers. Whether you’re towing on the highway or in the city, these tips will help you increase your towing safety.
1. Don’t Exceed Your Towing Capacity
Towing capacity varies from truck to truck. The current towing champs include the F-450 Super Duty with a maximum towing capacity of 37,000 pounds and the 2021 GMC Sierra 3500HD that can tow up to 36,000 pounds. When it comes to towing safety in these trucks, what should you keep in mind?
You don’t want your trailer to exceed the towing capacity of your truck because it will be a recipe for disaster. First, you’ll be doing your truck’s transmission and engine system a great injustice. Second, the brakes of your truck are likely to fail and lead to a catastrophic accident. Additionally, stopping your truck and trailer while at stop speed or when towing in hilly terrain would cause your truck to jackknife or crush into the vehicle ahead.
For this reason, you should know your truck’s maximum towing power and the weight of the trailer you seek to tow. Towing experts recommend that the total weight of your trailer and its load, commonly referred to as gross trailer weight (GTW) should not exceed the towing capacity of your truck. It’s also recommended that you install a weight distribution system if your trailer’s weight is more than half of your towing truck’s weight.
2. Invest in the Best Trailer Brake Controller
Brake controllers are installed in your truck’s cab and wired to your trailer’s and truck’s braking systems. A trailer brake system helps your truck stop smoothly without jerking when you apply the brakes on your towing vehicle. You can choose to install time-delayed controllers or proportional brake controllers.
Time-delayed controllers activate your trailer’s braking system with a predetermined braking power that you can program in the control sync settings. With these controllers, there’s a slight time-delay before the controller activates the trailer’s brakes. The other type of brake controller you can install is proportional brake controllers. These brake controllers use modern sensors that automatically detect when your towing truck is slowing or stopping. They then apply equal braking power to your trailer. This leads to a gradual stop as your truck and trailer stop in tandem.
3. Select the Appropriate Trailer Hitch
There are five classes of hitches available for towing trailers. The type you choose is determined by the gross trailer weight rating of your trailer, the maximum towing capacity of your truck, and the maximum trailer tongue weight. Selecting the right trailer hitch system will increase your towing safety because it will reduce the risk of your trailer accidentally dismounting from the towing vehicle. This may happen when you’re driving on bumpy roads.
Luckily, the GTW and maximum tongue weight are usually labeled on your trailer so you won’t have a hard time figuring them out. You can tell the maximum towing capacity of your truck from your truck’s manual or from your dealership.
4. Install a Trailer Sway Control Hitch
A sway control bar is extremely useful in controlling trailer sway when you’re driving. Trailer sway control systems use friction to keep your trailer in position with your towing vehicle. Whenever your trailer begins to sway, the trailer sway system stops the trailer from overturning by putting up enough resistance. When towing tall trailers and heavy enclosed trailers, installing a sway control system will come in handy.
While the above factors will work to enhance towing safety, the way you drive on the roads counts. You’re advised to drive safely and avoid overspeeding and dangerous overtaking when towing. The maximum recommended towing speed is 55mph. Even after following all the requirements that increase your towing safety, like installing the best brake controllers, they’ll be useless if you drive carelessly. When followed to the letter, these towing tips will enhance your road safety by a long shot.