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How RV Towing Safety Works

RV Towing Safety Checklist

Practice makes perfect. Find a large open area where you can practice driving maneuvers without placing your vehicles, yourself or others in danger.
Practice makes perfect. Find a large open area where you can practice driving maneuvers without placing your vehicles, yourself or others in danger.
Katrina Brown/iStockphoto

This RV towing checklist is intended to give you just a small taste of some of the safety concerns that you'll need to consider when you're planning to use your RV to tow another vehicle. You might want to use this list as a starting point when creating your own RV towing safety checklist:

Go to RV driving school -- Take a course in RV driving. Truck drivers are required to have a certain minimum level of training; why shouldn't you? If the course includes towing instruction, that's even better.


Practice, practice, practice -- If you have little or no previous RV-towing experience, practice before you hit the road. Find a vacant lot and practice parking, steering and braking to get a sense of how the RV and trailer handle.

Find level ground -- When hooking a trailer to an RV or a fifth wheel RV to your tow vehicle, make sure you're on a level surface. You don't want the trailer to start rolling downhill before you have it on the hitch.

Check the lights -- Make sure all lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals and marker lights) on both the tow vehicle and the trailer are working properly.

Check the tires -- Check the tires on all vehicles to see that the tread is in good condition and that they're properly inflated.

Make detailed plans -- Plan your trip ahead of time. Make note of locations where you might run into trouble with traffic or dangerous road situations.

Secure the load -- Tie down loose objects in the RV and trailer. You don't want things flying around every time you make a turn, hit the brakes or go over a bump.

Be alert -- In bad weather, don't park the RV where something dangerous can fall on it -- like a tree or an electric line.

Pass with care -- Remember that your tow vehicle and trailer take up a lot of space. Between the RV and the trailer, you'll need plenty of extra room to maneuver in and out of traffic.

Choose the correct gear -- When descending or climbing a hill, put the RV or tow vehicle into a lower gear. This gives the vehicle more power for the climb and it will slow the vehicle's descent as well.

Braking concerns -- Don't ride the brakes all the way down an incline; if you do, the brakes will quickly overheat and fail. When it's safe to do so, downshifting may be a good alternative.

Give yourself the space you need -- Give yourself plenty of extra room for stopping. Your RV and trailer have a lot of momentum and even the best brakes won't allow you to stop as quickly as you could without the extra weight behind you.

Avoid reverse gear -- As often as possible, try to avoid situations where you have to back up. If you absolutely have to put the tow vehicle into reverse, have someone stand behind the RV and trailer to guide you using hand signals.

Always be prepared -- Take along a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, a toolkit and a cell phone, so that you can handle emergency situations. And don't forget the battery charger for that phone, too.

Carry the right insurance policy -- If you're towing another vehicle behind your RV, make sure your insurance specifically covers this. You may need to add special RV towing insurance to your policy. Remember to keep your insurance information with you whenever you're on the road. You never know when you're going to need your insurance company's help.

­If you'd like to read more about towing, RVs and other related topics, follow the links below. ­

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

More Great Links


  • "RV Travel Safety Tips." (Nov. 19, 2008)
  • Greig, Peter M. "Weights & Balance For RV'ers." RVers Online. (Nov. 19, 2008)
  • McLellan, Ivan P.W. "Notes." Ivan's NZ Photographic Web site.(Nov. 19, 2008)­
  • Ruvo, Christopher. "Empty RV rolls onto highway." The Intelligencer. Sept.13, 2007. (Nov. 19, 2008)
  • RV "RV Fifth Wheel & Travel Trailer Towing Safety Tips." (Nov. 19, 2008)
  • RVers Online. "Practical Tips For Towing." (Nov. 19, 2008)
  • Walter. "RV Safety & Education Foundation Pre-Trip Safety Checklist -- Motorhome." Feb. 7, 2007. (Nov. 19, 2008)