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Cargo Trailer Safety: Safe Driving Tips to Ensure a Safe Hauling Experience

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You’ve got your cargo loaded and you’re ready to hit the road. But before you do, the team at Cargo Express suggests you follow these guidelines to ensure a safe drive for you, your cargo trailer, and of course, your haul.

Before you start:

  • Recheck the load tie-downs to make sure items inside the enclosed trailer won’t shift during towing.
  • Before towing, check coupling, safety chains, the safety brake, tires, wheels, and lights. Check the lug nuts and/or bolts for tightness.
    • And, for every 50 miles of towing, check the coupler tightness.
  • Adjust the brake controller to engage the trailer brakes before the tow vehicle brakes.
    • You can find instructions for how to do this in the brake controller manufacturer’s literature.

Once you’re on the road, it’s important to take your cargo trailer into consideration while driving. You’ll need to leave extra time for stopping and space for changing lanes, as well as make the following adjustments:

  • Use your mirrors to verify that you have room to change lanes or pull into traffic.
  • Use your turn signals well in advance.
  • Allow plenty of stopping space for your trailer and tow vehicle.
  • Do not drive so fast that the trailer begins to sway due to speed. Generally, never drive faster than 60 mph.
  • Allow plenty of room for passing. A rule of thumb is that the passing distance with a trailer is four (4) times the passing distance without a trailer.
  • Shift your automatic transmission into a lower gear for city driving and use lower gears for climbing and descending grades.
  • To conserve fuel, don’t use full throttle to climb a hill. Instead, build speed on the approach.

When it comes to braking, just remember:

  • Do not ride the brakes while descending grades, they may get so hot that they stop working. This will potentially cause you to have a runaway tow vehicle and trailer.
  • Slow down for bumps in the road.
    • Take your foot off the brake when crossing the bump.
  • Do not brake while in a curve unless absolutely necessary. Instead, slow down before you enter the curve.
  • Do not apply the tow vehicle brakes to correct extreme trailer swaying. Instead, lightly apply the trailer brakes with the hand controller.

Finally, make regular stops, about once an hour. 

  • While stopped, confirm that the coupler is secure to the hitch and is locked, electrical connectors are made, and there is appropriate slack in the safety chains and in the breakaway switch pull pin cable. This is also a good time to check that the tires are not visibly low on pressure and the cargo is secure and in good condition. 

By following these guidelines, you and your cargo will arrive safely at your destination.

Cargo Express trailers are built to high standards, with sturdy construction and durable materials, plus loads of built-in safety and convenience features. For more information on quality trailer options for all your hauling needs, visit your local Cargo Express dealer.