Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
July 28, 2012
One of my favorite funny movies of all-time is "The Long, Long Trailer," a 1953 film starring the legendary Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as newlyweds embarking on married life with an enormous silver trailer in tow.
It's sidesplitting comedy when Arnaz's character haplessly attempts to back the monstrous trailer into his in-laws' narrow driveway or Ball's character tries to cook dinner as the trailer is pulled along a twisting mountain road.
Unfortunately, such tricky situations aren't as much fun in real life. Since 1975, more than 15,000 people have been killed in crashes involving vehicles towing trailers, according to statistics released by website AutoMD.com. Additionally, 71 percent of Americans who tow trailers admit to being only somewhat knowledgeable about proper towing techniques.
So before hitching the boat, Jet Skis or camper to the car for a summer road trip, take a look at these tips, courtesy of AutoMD:
•Understand towing capacity: Never exceed your vehicle's towing capacity. For example, you may think that just because you have a truck, you can tow a boat, but if the boat and trailer are heavier than your towing capacity, you can find yourself in deep water.
•Getting hitched: Buying the right hitch is crucial if your vehicle is not already equipped with a manufacturer's towing package. The hitch must not only match your vehicle's towing capacity but must be the right one for the load you are hauling.
•Are the brakes in sync?: Make sure that the brakes and lights on your car or truck are in sync with the brakes and lights on your trailer. Trailer brakes and brake lights should go on when your vehicle's brakes and brake lights go on.
•Weight distribution is key: Incorrect weight distribution can cause your trailer to flip. Load heavier cargo first, making sure you secure items with ropes or cords. Fill in extra spaces evenly, front to back, and side to side.
•Perform a maintenance check: Towing adds extra stress to a vehicle, accelerating repair issues for equipment that's not properly maintained. Check all fluid levels, get an oil change, inspect the brakes and tires.
•Do a practice run: Driving with a trailer is a different experience, so practice accelerating and stopping, backing, turning corners and parking before leaving. On the road, avoid driving too fast.
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