Trailer towing can be tricky at the best of times, but navigating inner-city roads adds extra stress. Here are some towing tips to get you through with minimum fuss.
Plan your route
For safe trailer towing, know where you’re going and what traffic and road conditions you will encounter. Remember, quite a lot of inner-city streets are one-way.
You’ll want to avoid last-minute lane changes. If you do miss an exit or turn because you’re in the wrong lane, just take the next one when you can do so safely.
Make good use of your GPS. Don’t have one? The Google Maps app on a smart phone not only gives audible directions but will alert you to traffic incidents along the way.
Understand the limitations
Depending on the load you’re towing, a trailer will either slow down response times because of the increased weight or bounce around when it’s empty. Either way, it will impact your driving.
- Be cautious when manoeuvring to allow for the extra length and width.
- Trailers take corners very differently from a car. Slow down and give yourself plenty of room on approach, then allow the car to continue straight for a few metres to avoid having the trailer ‘cut’ the corner.
- Different loads impact the gravitational forces on your trailer; naturally, everything must be well secured, but tall objects will need a different style of driving from low-seated heavy cargo.
When driving in inner-city traffic, you really want to avoid excessive swerving or braking, and the best way to do that is to drive proactively. Be ready for anything.
- Always leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front so you can slow down gradually in response to traffic movements and lights. That’s not always easy, because inner-city traffic tends to bunch up closely and merge often, but it’s important you drive according to your circumstances and let others sort themselves out.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes, since that may cause the trailer to jackknife – on inner-city roads you don’t have much room for that. Don’t ‘ride’ the brakes either; most city drivers watch your brake lights to anticipate your movements, so use them accordingly.
- ‘Work’ the traffic lights. Understand how long it will take you to come to a complete halt and make sure you have the space. Slow down when approaching lights that are already red; if they change to green by the time you get there, it will not only prevent having to stop and accelerate off again, but will also save fuel.
- Check side mirrors often.
City traffic invariably flows at a hectic pace, but you can keep up when towing a trailer if you know where you’re going and consider the limitations of the extra weight you’re carrying.
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