In 2014, 68,358 American motorists were involved in towing-related accidents, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the average damages were approximately $43,000. While towing a trailer seems simple enough, one must be very sure that proper safety practices and loading techniques are used.

The first step before towing anything is to make sure that both the tow vehicle and the trailer are rated for the load that you intend to tow. The essential components are the hitch (on the trailer) and the receiver (on the tow vehicle). Unless you are intending to tow a small yard trailer, it is advised that the minimum hitch and receiver rating would be a Class III. Class III hitches allow a maximum of 6000 lbs trailer weight.

For a rating up to 14,000 lbs, a Class IV hitch is needed. This usually means that your tow vehicle is a full-size pickup truck or a full size SUV. The next step up from there is a Class V hitch which allow up to 17,000 lbs and generally is the domain of heavy duty pickup trucks.

After you have decided on what level of hitch and receiver you need, you can look into the type of trailer you need. As you probably know, there is a huge selection of trailers to choose from. There is a trailer built for every need that you can imagine. It is suggested that you talk to someone well versed in this sort of thing for advice. You can find this at any trailer sales outlet or any rental company.

By the way, if you are towing a large trailer, you will likely deal with swaying. This often occurs when the winds are blowing, but not always. If it occurs to you, the best corrective action is to gently back off the gas and allow the vehicle slow down. It is not necessary to apply the brakes unless there is an obstacle ahead. You can minimize the risk of swaying by making sure that the load on the trailer is centered over the axles and centered from left to right.

As with most tasks, preparation before you hit the road is the key to safe and successful trailering and the best way to avoid becoming one of the 68,000 plus motorists involved in trailering accidents each year. Good Luck!

Advice from Marty Cancila Chrysler