Top 10 Towing Risks to Keep in Mind


Accelerating and Speeding

If you need to use a jack to support a trailer, make sure it's designed to hold the weight.
If you need to use a jack to support a trailer, make sure it's designed to hold the weight.
Dan Driedger/iStockphoto

When you're towing a load, your vehicle has more mass. That means you have to handle a vehicle that has a greater amount of momentum and inertia than normal. Momentum simply refers to mass in motion. An increase in mass or speed results in an increase in momentum. Inertia is the tendency for anything with mass to resist a change to its state of motion. The more massive an object, the greater it resists change. That means it takes more energy to get a massive object to start or stop moving than an object with less mass.

What this means for you is that your vehicle will have to work harder to accelerate when you're towing. If you use the same amount of energy as you would to accelerate your vehicle under normal conditions, it will take more time to get up to speed. This becomes important to understand when you need to merge onto a highway or if you need to pass another vehicle.

Passing a vehicle while towing a load requires a steady hand and focus. Remember, your vehicle's length (and possibly width) are greater than normal. Before passing another vehicle, you should signal much earlier than normal. This will alert other drivers of your intentions. After passing the vehicle, remember to take the length of the trailer (or towed vehicle) into account before pulling back into the lane.

Speeding while towing can damage your vehicle and your trailer. Avoid accelerating down hills -- you may find your vehicle more difficult to control at the bottom of the hill. It's also harder to handle your vehicle at faster speeds should something go wrong. You should avoid driving too quickly down roads with lots of bumps. If you go too fast, you could risk a serious accident -- the trailer could flip or skid, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.

Even the most basic maneuvers can become difficult when you're towing. Next, we'll look at what you should be aware of when you make a turn.