Before and While on the Road
Assemble your trailer and tow vehicle to check systems well in advance of departure day. There is nothing as aggravating as finding a problem just as you are preparing to leave.
Do a circle-check of your truck and trailer each time you stop. Just remember that the pilot of the largest, most sophisticated aircraft in the world has to do the same thing?—?why wouldn’t you?
Visually inspect and physically check the following:
- Light bulbs and wiring for proper function.
- Check wheel hubs for heat; tighten and lubricate lug nuts as needed.
- Check tires for proper inflation and wear; particularly sidewall damage. Tires can naturally lose as much as 15 lbs of pressure over six months.
- Check the hitch assembly; look at locks, chains, pins, doors, latches and straps. Lubricate as you go.
- Repeat the same checks for the tow vehicle hitch and electrical connections.
Once Under Way
Using ONLY the manual control on the trailer brake controller, bring the rig to a stop. Adjust the control as needed. Trailer brakes should never lock up! Do this in the first kilometer of travel.
As weather and traffic conditions change (particularly where elevations change) perform test braking where safe to do so. This exercise forms a muscle memory for when you might need to brake suddenly.
Always drive with your eyes up; as in look at least 20 car lengths ahead at all times. This habit permits you to calmly change lanes ahead of merging vehicles and avoid congestion caused by breakdowns and emergency vehicles on the side of the road.
Signal?—?always?—?with at least five flashes before starting any maneuver. Warn other drivers of your intentions and they will give you room.
Never rely on passengers to give you traffic information. Look for yourself?—?only the driver can decide if it’s safe to proceed.
When backing up, you may choose to use a spotter. If so, communicate with hand signals only. Yelling is tacky. The driver should be able to clearly see the spotter in his/her driver’s side mirror. Remember to look up as well?—?and always remember the driver is solely responsible for any collision?—?if in doubt; get out and look for yourself.