Typecasting Yourself for Towing Safety


Basic towing safety tips are the first step in towing safety. It's important to watch the gross vehicle weight rating, the hitch weight, and a number of other issues. While the power numbers could not be more different, the driving technique necessary for proper trailer towing resembles that of fuel-efficient drivers: Leave lots of space to maneuver, slowly accelerate and decelerate, and anticipate.


It is also important to understand how trailer types affect the handling of both the truck and the trailer. There are several kinds of trailers, and each one operates differently. To begin, there is the conventional trailer, a true catch-all.


Conventional Trailers


The term "conventional trailer" is a catch-all for any trailer used for recreational purpose, including pop-ups and travel trailers. The main coupling is the ball and hitch. It's simply a giant washer, the coupler, and a ball acting as a nut. It can be less stable than a fifth-wheel trailer. Towing while on anything tighter than a gradual curve requires extra precautions. Drivers need to handle even low-speed maneuvers with caution for towing safety. In addition, the ability for the trailer to sway moderately means that items should be placed forward of the midpoint and low when possible, even on heavy-duty vehicles.


The Fifth-Wheel


A fifth-wheel trailer doesn't use a hitch on the back of a truck, rather, it connects to a special mount at the midpoint of the bed above the rear axle. This makes them more stable, and much of the weight is further ahead, similar to putting cargo in the bed. The ability to use the fifth wheel as a pivot can mean a wide turning radius. The ability to jackknife, though, is unlike other trailer types. It means that drivers should always avoid complacency, even on longer highway journeys.


Utility Trailers


Utility trailers are often smaller than even conventional trailers, like pop-up campers. There are advantages to this, since the light weight helps with gas milage, and the trailer can roll through curves more easily. Truck drivers who are considering towing these types of trailers have to look at the downside. The hitch is lighter, and drivers must take care to attach safety chains correctly under the trailer tongue. These single-axle trailers should also be front-heavy when loaded to be safe. During a sudden maneuver, this helps reduce the likelihood of a flip or other incident.


Summing Up


Regardless of what kind of trailer you choose, it comes down to finding the right trailer to make sure it gets there on time and safely. Be sure to visit GMC.com's Trailering and Towing section for more ideas on towing with heavy-duty trucks.