How to Pass While Towing

There are times when you're not allowed to pass another vehicle and other times when you simply shouldn't pass another vehicle. See more truck pictures.

Most drivers can relate to the frustration of following a cement mixer or even a huge recreational vehicle over a steep, seemingly never-ending mountain highway, or possibly down a twisty, single-lane country road. There's no place to go -- you're stuck. The vehicle in front of you is moving at a snail's pace, and for a reasonable amount of time, you're patient. "Surely this guy is going to turn off," you think to yourself. But as mile after mile ticks away on your odometer, you realize that you're simply stuck where you are right now -- staring at the back end of a giant camper with tourism stickers from all 50 states.

It's time to do something about this. First, you make a few tentative moves to the edge of your lane, avoiding oncoming traffic as you do, just to see if you can survey the situation ahead of the camper. It's exactly as you suspected: The trailer is the only thing standing between you, the open road ahead and the posted speed limit -- which happens to be nearly double the speed that you're traveling right now. Just as you have so many times in the past, you safely and successfully accelerate around the lumbering dinosaur and slip back into the correct traffic lane. Just as simple as that, you're back on schedule.

Now imagine that the shoe is on the other foot. Well, maybe not completely on the other foot, because we want to find out what it takes to be able to pass while towing. So, in the new scenario, imagine that you're driving a pickup truck that's pulling a large camper, one that's several feet longer than your tow vehicle, as a matter of fact. Now imagine that you're on that same two-lane country road. About a quarter of a mile ahead, you see that a farmer has just entered the roadway hauling a trailer full of freshly cut hay. It's a slow-moving rig, so you quickly find yourself approaching the farmer's rear bumper. Now, of course you're excited to get to your lake property to begin the long weekend of camping, backpacking and boating; however, there's just one thing in your way -- this load of hay.

It's important to understand that you might not be able to handle this situation the same way you would in your sleek sedan. Passing while towing is an entirely different ballgame. In fact, as you'll find out on the next page, there are times when passing may not even be an option -- at least not a safe option.