How Boat Towing Safety Works

Boating can be tons of fun -- car accidents, less so. See more truck pictures.
© iStockphoto/ Tim McCaig

While some people are lucky enough to have lakefront or oceanfront property, the rest of the boating community is typically stuck transporting their boats -- often for many miles -- which usually means wheeling out the trailer and hitting the road.

But towing a boat, like all types of towing, needs to be undertaken with care. Seasoned pros might make it look simple, but if you've ever seen a rookie on the road, chances are you've changed lanes and given them a wide berth when possible to avoid the swaying trailer swinging behind them.

There are lots of ways to make a trailer trip safer, like by learning how to brake while towing, how to turn while towing, how to back up towed vehicles and how to avoid jackknifing. When it comes to towing a boat, like many other types of loads, the most important safety precautions you can exercise actually take place before you even stick the key in the ignition

For example, you want to make sure your vehicle can handle the size boat you bought, and this involves a number of calculations and measurements. Then you need to make sure the boat itself is ready to ride, along with the trailer it will travel on. Finally, special care is needed during the packing process, because one poorly placed piece of payload can have your trailer swinging across three lanes of traffic -- or worse.

On the next couple of pages, we'll take a closer look at some of the major trouble spots that should be checked before any trailer trips to the beach with your boat, and some tips for packing as well.