Michael Snow is the CEO of Interstate/TrailersPlus. As a trusted voice in the realm of safe towing and handling, Michael Snow imparts invaluable insights, from hitching techniques to weight distribution strategies that can make all the difference between a smooth journey and a perilous one.
Embarking on a journey with a travel trailer in tow is an adventure like no other. Yet, for all its allure, towing a travel trailer demands careful planning, skill, and a keen understanding of safety protocols.
From first timers to seasoned pros, many travel trailer users cite towing as the most stressful part of owning/renting these accessories. Even though it’s a scary prospect, all it take is a few safety suggestions to make all the difference and reduce anxiety for even the most nervous individuals.
Proper preparation, towing practice, understanding road etiquette, and more ensures that beginners have a smooth first ride with their travel trailers while offering experienced adventurers a much-needed refresher.
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus Says it’s All in the Preparation
Safety begins long before hopping into the driver’s seat.
While everybody’s at a different stage of their towing journey, the first order of business is purchasing tow mirrors. Most recommend extendable mirrors will clip onto the tow vehicle’s existing mirrors; they tend to be the cheapest, safest option that guarantees full visibility.
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus notes that, with the mirrors secured, drivers should then ensure that their vehicle is actually capable of towing the trailer’s loaded weight. Using a towing guide is the best way to check the math before hitching up.
When it’s time to connect the trailer’s tongue to the hitch ball, adventurers must do so securely prior to double-checking turn signals, hazard signals, brake lights, and running lights.
Reportedly, many individuals would benefit from utilizing a weight-distribution hitch to reduce bounce and sway that could cause loss of control. As the name suggests, such hitches spread the weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle, leveling out the payload. Michael Snow of TrailersPlus maintains that, while some would simply consider it to be “just another expense,” towing with a high rear bumper or tongue is far less safe than pulling a level one.
Towing Practice Makes Towing Perfection
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus says that the sometimes-over-used “practice makes perfect” phrase actually applies to towing as well. Like anything that is hands-on, it becomes easier the more it’s performed.
Heading to an empty parking lot with a few obstacles scattered around is the best way to practice navigating the road with a travel trailer. Unlike regular driving, individuals must ensure they swing wide when turning, understanding that the arc of the trailer’s rear bumper is smaller than that of the tow vehicle’s front bumper.
Beginners should pay particular attention to how their trailer follows the tow vehicle, noticing how wide they need to swing to avoid obstacles. Michael Snow of TrailersPlus explains that going slower is best at this stage, so that drivers can get used to the trailer’s lean.
Following Road Etiquette While Towing a Travel Trailer
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus notes that, while there are a plethora of restrictions and regulations on US roads, general etiquette is as follows:
- Those who’re towing for the first time should avoid overtaking until they grow more comfortable.
- When towing on roads without passing lanes, drivers should pull over and let following cars go ahead if they start to build up.
- Always follow posted speed limits, traffic signals, and use the correct lanes.
- Be sure to use turning and lane switching signals early.
Being Mindful of Steep Mountain Grades
Driving on straight, flat roads can already be anxiety-inducing for first-timers, but tackling gradients opens up a whole new can of worms. Two fundamental issues can arise here: burning vehicle and trailer brakes when descending, and overheating engines when ascending.
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus says that adventurers need to make peace with the fact that they’ll have to travel much slower than normal when towing travel trailers up steep mountain grades. Those who are traveling far below the speed limit should move to the farthest right-hand lane and consider warning road users by switching hazard signals on.
Long mountain trips may require regular stops to allow the engine to cool.
Heading down steep grades necessitates effectively using the transmission to ease the braking systems. Some also recommend engaging the electronic brake controller to reduce strain.
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus maintains that best practice dictates downshifting early to prevent trailers from gathering speed and resisting the urge to ride the brakes.
Checking the Tongue at Every Stop
Michael Snow of TrailersPlus notes that even initial hitching perfection isn’t enough to stop debris or other external factors from causing potentially dangerous conditions. Check the tongue at every available opportunity to guarantee that the trailer always remains hitched correctly.
In the world of travel trailer towing, safety is paramount. With his wealth of experience, Michael Snow emphasizes the importance of meticulous preparation, consistent practice, and adherence to road etiquette. His insights serve as a guiding light for both novices and seasoned travelers, ensuring that every journey with a travel trailer is a smooth and secure one.