How to Load and Unload Towed Vehicles

Towing can be stressful business. But, you can take measures to make it safer and easier even before you leave the house.
Towing can be stressful business. But, you can take measures to make it safer and easier even before you leave the house.
iStockPhoto/Sebastian Iovannitti

Whether you're uprooting the family and moving to a new city or just taking a nice, long vacation, you may end up towing many of your big, important items for the ride. As if packing isn't enough of a pain, towing can unfortunately be even more work.

Don't spoil the fun of a road trip with a towing accident -- improper towing is a major safety hazard for you and other drivers on the road. Many traffic accidents occur each year as a result of mistakes involving towing. Even if you've towed stuff before and think you know how it's done, it's good to brush up in the basics before you start.

As it turns out, many accidents are caused by improperly loading towed vehicles [source: Land Transport NZ]. Although the first-time tower may not think twice before carelessly stuffing a trailer or plopping items on a towing platform, there's a science to loading towed vehicles. The items you're moving -- which may be heavy and valuable -- will be subjected to strong physical forces during your trip, causing them to shift around, perhaps violently. What's worse, even if you follow guidelines for how to drive a towing vehicle safely, improper loading could cause your vehicle to tip over. It goes without saying that, giving these possibilities, it's wise to think ahead and strategize your loading procedure.

Before you go loading up your towed vehicle and driving off into the sunset, take some time to consider an important physical force that will play a large part in your trip -- inertia. Inertia is simply the idea that objects in motion tend to stay in motion and that objects that are still tend to stay still. If your vehicle makes a sudden stop or a sharp turn, the items in tow will want to continue in the direction they were going, which could cause loss or damage. And although your brakes may safely stop your driving vehicle, the attached towed vehicle could react dangerously as a result of imbalanced loading.

Unloading towed vehicles takes some careful thought as well, and may not be as simple as you thought. Luckily, there are some great tips for loading and unloading towed vehicles to prevent driving disasters and other problems. We'll go over the most important ones next.