A nice, clear August day. It's hot and the lake beckons with cool breezes, some fishing and maybe a dip to cool off. Get that boat on the trailer and get going! Not so fast.
Most people don't know that one of the most dangerous things they can do on the highway involves towing a trailer. What you do between hitching and driving could save your life or ruin it. According to Dangerous Trailers, every year about 400 people lose their lives at the scene of the accident when an improperly towed trailer unhitches from the tow vehicle and careens across the highway, or even hits the car towing it. About 10,000 people are injured every year in towing accidents. Property damage accidents alone have surpassed 1 million since 1975.
So what can you do when you need to get your boat to the lake or ocean?
- Check your tires. Check the tires on the tow vehicle and the trailer. A blowout on the road can be deadly. Don't take chances.
- Spend 25 cents. That is how much it costs to buy a pin that holds the safety latch in place. In many states, this is the law. In 2017, on a closed course at Lancaster National Speedway in New York, a professional driver tried to tow a small trailer without the pin. On the first turn, the latch came undone and the trailer careened across the track and hit a wall, according to Inside Edition. On the highway, this could be deadly.
- Use two chains. The trailer hitch must be connected with two chains, not one. The chains must be crossed under the hitch, so that the hitch is cradled in case the latch comes undone.
- Use the right size ball for your hitch. A 1 7/8-inch ball on a 2-inch trailer hitch could easily come loose and cause an accident.
- Check and recheck. Check and recheck every time you start to tow.