Trailer Driving Tips

Trailers can adversely affect vehicle handling and stopping. Always drive at a speed that allows for full control of the vehicle and trailer.
1. Ensure that vehicles used for towing trailers comply with Federal, State, and specific Regional requirements regarding size, weight, and necessary equipment.
a. For tongue type, tag-along trailers, gross trailer weight (GTW) is not to exceed 75 percent of the towing vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The actual loaded weights shall never exceed the gross axle weight ratings (GAWR).
b. As truck gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) increase, the actual truck weight does not increase in the same proportion. There are situations where the best way to determine the towing capability of trucks over the nominal 1 ton weight (GTW) is not to exceed 75 percent of the actual truck weight. Adding weight to the truck is a better choice than adding any weight to the trailer. This allows the towing unit to fully control the trailer.
c. For fifth-wheel or gooseneck type trailers, use the manufacturer’s published gross combined weight rating (GCWR), available from the fleet manager or specific vehicle towing specifications. These ratings reflect a combination of proper truck components, including engine size, transmission, rear axle ratio, frame, and suspension. In no case shall the GCWR exceed the manufacturer’s published GCWR nor shall any individual axle exceed the specific gross axle weight rating (GAWR) stamped on the manufacturer’s plate.
2. Keep hands and feet away from the coupling device when maneuvering the trailer into position for locking.
3. Never permit riders in or on trailers.
4. When backing a trailer, first get out and check the area to the rear, sides, front, and overhead to ensure the vehicle is clear of obstructions. Use an observer when available.