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How to tow your trailer and boat correctly to avoid personal injury accidents

For many in Wisconsin, summer means camping and boating. As people gear up for their trips, a lot will be traveling with a load in tow. Therefore, it becomes very important to know how to tow correctly to avoid personal injury accidents.

Unfortunately, researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have reported that over 1000 people were killed in traffic accidents during the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day making it one of the deadliest times of the year to be traveling on American roadways. Add the improper towing of a trailer, boat or recreational vehicle to the hazardous accident-prone season and you have both a motor vehicle accident and personal injury case waiting to happen.

Most towing collisions due to lack of education

Most towing wrecks are caused by people who do not know how to tow properly. Since the late 1990s, 500,000 people have been injured nationwide in tow-related accidents. In addition, more than 700,000 tow vehicles (campers, boats and other types of trailers) have been totaled because of a towing collision.

How to properly tow a vehicle

If you know how to properly haul your load, you will save yourself a lot of grief and possibly save lives.

Know your vehicle’s tow rating

Every vehicle has a tow rating. Before you buy a camper or boat, make sure you know the tow rating for your vehicle. You can find your vehicle’s tow rating in your owner’s manual and sometimes on the inside of the driver’s door.

If you tow a load that is in excess of your vehicle’s tow rating, you can cause a problem for yourself or a serious accident on the road. Overloading your vehicle can cause problems such as transmission overheating, failing brakes, loose or broken suspensions, or blown-out tires.

Know how to prep and hook up safely

Make sure to do a pre-check to ensure all of your equipment is in working order. You want to check parking lights, hazard flashers, all necessary turn signals, brake lights, your actual brakes, and the trailer-wiring harness. This “industry standard” plug and socket wiring is done with a color-coded scheme, which should make it easy to install the connector properly to the tow vehicle’s harness.

When you hook up your camper or boat, always be sure to cross the chains the correct way since they will serve as an extra safety measure and a last effort if the tongue loses grip on the ball of the hitch. Chains will also keep the trailer from vaulting the guardrail into oncoming traffic or something equally tragic. Keep the chains wet with dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.

Next, check the tires of your vehicle and those of your trailer. A fully loaded trailer or boat with improper tire pressure can cause an accident. Tire blow-outs can cause you lose control of your vehicle and its load, and may cause a rollover. Always inflate the tires according to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Make sure that all tires are in proper alignment.

Know that a heavier load requires greater braking distance

Because your vehicle is now heavier with the added weight of a trailer, you will need to control your driving speed very carefully. Before you go on a long trip, you might want to take a test drive to see how your loaded vehicle handles. Also, trailer lights can help. They are required by federal law to allow travelers behind you to see you. To this end, make sure to check your brake battery because no one will be able to see you if the brake battery is out.

Know your rear visibility

You are likely going to have limited rear visibility because of the size of the trailer. Not being able to see what’s happening behind you can be very dangerous. The answer to this dilemma is mirror extenders. They can provide added visibility for backing up, seeing who is behind you, and for being able to safely change lanes.

Know your own and other state’s towing laws and regulations

Every state has their own laws governing maximum towing speeds, trailer widths, and how many vehicles you can tow. Before you embark on your trip, make sure you know your state’s towing regulations and those of any other states you are planning to visit. Some helpful links for Wisconsin towing laws and general guidelines include Wisconsin Towing Laws and Trailer Life.

Failure to obey the law can result in a costly citation.

Enjoying your summer camping and boating experience means knowing how to tow your boat or trailer correctly. Always be mindful you are driving a larger and heavier vehicle and that you need to become confident in doing so by practicing before a long trip.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact us.

Please click on to read our other personal injury articles. If you have any questions related to personal injury law, please call us at 920-725-8464, or toll free at 1-800-529-1552. Our personal injury consultations are always free.

The content of this blog was prepared by Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC -client relationships can only be created by written contract.

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