Trailer Driving Tips

Trailer Parking

Trailer parking spaces are shrinking due to population increases and urban sprawl. It is courteous to park your trailer straight with a minimum of 12 feet between your trailer and other vehicles or trailers. A good practice would be to place a parking cone 12 feet out to discourage other vehicles from parking too close.

Stop and Go

Drivers should always remember that fast driving can cause serious accidents, and fast braking can cause a jackknife accident. When pulling a trailer, always drive at or under the speed limit. Also, watch for other drivers who may drive out in front of you. A safe following distance is the ‘two-second’ rule. Using this rule varies greatly with varying tow vehicle size, driving conditions, and gross weight, so it is recommended to double the following distance to four seconds.

All trailer speed changes should be gradual. Also, trailer drivers should try to avoid the fast lane on interstate highways. This is because of the increased time required to slow down a trailer and vehicle. There are three ways to slow down a trailer. These include the manual brake trailer control, the towing vehicle’s brakes, and downdshifting of the transmission.

Trailer Backing

Backing up a trailer is a difficult skill to learn. It requires both coordination and practice to master. The main idea is that in backing, one must turn the wheels of the vehicle opposite to the direction that one wishes to go. This may take a series of turns and accelerations to line up with the target. Once lined up, then straighten the wheels up and complete the backing.

A good idea to get practice would be to practice in a parking lot prior to driving as much as possible. It would even be a good idea to practice backing into difficult targets. Set up cones or backing into an alley or empty loading dock would be a good idea.

Turning

Practicing turning is necessary for new trailer drivers. Drivers should always make sure that all mirrors are in proper adjustment. Drivers should be able to see the length of all trailers. Then drivers should practice turning around a single cone.

Summary

Confidence for new trailer drivers will come with experience. New drivers should take an experienced trailer driver along for the ride. They should also practice often until they have mastered some of these basic skills.