Pulling Your Trailer

Whenever I think of the word “trailer,” it reminds me of my “roots.” The address on my birth certificate is nothing more than “trailer park.” My mother constantly reminds me of that to keep me grounded. My father was a welder and we traveled with the pipeline. It must have been stressful for him, hauling a trailer and two screaming babies around the country. Not to mention, my nagging mother.

The last time I trailered anything with my car, it was a U-Haul when I was moving from Austin to California. I had a trailer hitch installed on the back of my BMW 325 and was ready to roll. I was excited to be getting on the road and didn’t take into consideration that the crap I was hauling was so heavy, that the weight was overbearing. I was apparently driving too fast and was unable to stop at the first red light. I applied my breaks, but the weight of the trailer pushed my car right through the intersection. Then came the next light, and I ran that too…why bother. Wouldn’t you know that a cop was right there and wrote me two tickets…just my luck.

If you’re going to be hauling a boat or a camper this summer, it all boils down to basic common sense about the importance of adjusting your driving habits when pulling your trailer. Driving needs to be done at about half the speed when you’re pulling your trailer. Give yourself adequate stopping distance, turn at a slower pace and be super careful when changing lanes. Also, you have to be aware that most people on the road with you aren’t paying attention to your trailer and may attempt to change lanes right into it’s path. Keep alert and keep your paws near the horn. And make sure to take time before you get on the road to practice backing up and turning.

It’s always best to be pulling your trailer with a truck or SUV. Smaller trailers can be hauled by a smaller car such as my BMW, but for anything over 2,000 lbs, the larger vehicle is always required. And, a dual-axle trailer is always more desirable, as dual axles provide better load distribution, which would come handy in the event of a tire blow out.

Now that you have the car and the trailer all worked out, the trailer hitch is a little tricky. Trailer hitches are rated according to capacity of the load weight and tongue weight. There are several trailer hitch classifications ranging from Class I to Class V. Class I = 2,000 GTW, while Class V = 10,000 GTW (GTW=Gross Trailer Weight, which includes the weight of the car plus what you are hauling). Hook up your brake lights and signals to the trailer and make sure they are working correctly.

With the extra weight load, your car will be burning up more fuel. Take that into consideration. And, you may check what the laws are for different rules and regulations when pulling your trailer in those states you will be passing through. At a minimum, all trailers need to have working taillights and brake lights and most states require registration of the trailer with the Department of Motor Vehicles. And, many states require trailers to drive in the slower right hand lane.

Now, off to your adventure and we’ll be back next week.

Daun Thompson
Comedienne / Writer / Artist

Pulling Your Trailer – Comedy Defensive Driving