Towing and loading

See the correct answer further down. Towing a caravan, boat or trailer affects the steering, acceleration and braking of a vehicle. If you load it incorrectly, it will be unbalanced and very hard to control. As the speed increases, so will the instability worsen to a point where it will go out of control and cause a crash.

Do not put the heavy goods at the far end. It should be placed close above the axle. If you have limited choices, rather put the load forward than at the rear. Just remember, when you load heavy goods too far forward, the towing vehicle carries the weight, instead of the trailer. So ideally it should be properly balanced.

Secure the load with ropes or ratchet tie downs. Even when you use an enclosed trailer, the load inside must be secured. You may get in a situation where the load moved during braking and cause the trailer to become unbalanced. By securing your load, you will also prevent damage or injury.

Why do we need to go slower when we tow? The stopping distance for the vehicle will increase and depending on the weight of the trailer, this could be significant. When a driver brakes very hard, like in an emergency stop, the vehicle combination could easily “jack-knife” or swing out of control. Your following distance should also increase to at least 4 seconds.

It is important to have good visibility to the back of the vehicle. If you the trailer or load is wider than the towing vehicle, you will have to use extended mirrors.

As the maximum speed when towing a vehicle is 90 km/h, check regularly in the rear-view mirrors that you are not holding up traffic too much. Whenever you have a queue of vehicles behind you, especially when there are limited passing opportunities, find a safe space to pull over to let them pass. Believe me they will respect you for it.

When a light trailer is empty, it tends to hop around a bit behind the towing vehicle. To overcome that, just put a couple of sandbags or similar weight over the area above the axles. Make sure these bags do not move during braking or turning.

Tyre pressure is very important too, so make sure it is correct http://www.autow.com/trailer-parts/data-tyre-load-pressure-ratings/ . Follow the manufacturer specifications, but here are a few common tyre sizes with the recommended tyre pressure (cold)

185 x 14 (8 ply) - 65 psi or 4.5 bar 175 x 13 (6 ply) - 54 psi or 3.75 bar 175 x 14 – (8 ply) – 65 psi or 4.5 bar 165 x 13 - 36 psi or 2.5 bar

Safer Journeys!

Daniel Naudé Road Safety Coordinator