Towing Safety 101

Add caption

Towing an RV can be a scary prospect.  For some camping enthusiast, this may be what is holding them back from upgrading to a larger RV or just buying that first RV.  Towing fears also hinders others from that solo adventure of their dreams.  Towing doesn't have to be scary.  With a little thought and planning, you can safely tow an RV.  

What do you do to prepare for towing your RV?

Towing Safety 101

I'm going to disclose here that I am not a great driver.  It is easy to spot the company vehicle I am driving by how it is parked.  I am known for parking 10 feet from the actual curb, being crooked and all other forms of driving transgressions.  With that being said, I am also the person that backs our RV down our scary narrow drive.  And, I have learned to tow her with ease.  

Towing Safety begins with a few simple steps that will set you up for success on the road.
  1. Know your numbers - the correct PSI for your tires and speed rating for them on the highway.
  2. Have properly inflated tires.
  3. Use a sway bar/weight distribution hitch on larger RV's.
  4. Properly attach your trailer.
  5. Eliminate distractions.
  6. Install additional gear for improved visibility.

Know Your Numbers and Properly Inflate Your Tires

The tires on your trailer will have a maximum number PSI (pounds of air per square inch) rating.  This does not mean you need to inflate your tires to the maximum number rated.  It can be a lot more complicated than that.  You really should weigh your RV the next time you are out and complete some mathematical calculations to determine the exact PSI based on the tire manufacturer's guide and the weight of your trailer.  You can find out more about how to do this from the Fit RV's guide on tire pressure.  Our RV has a sticker that gives some of the basic weights and numbers to get started.  

Our RV has the numbers to get you started calculating the exact PSI based on the weight you are carrying.

You want to ensure that your tires are not over or under-inflated.  This can cause you to have a blowout on the road.  Many of the issues that people have with their tires relate back to just basic tire maintenance.  Before you ever hit the road, be sure to know the correct PSI number for your tires, weight, and axels and inflate them before you leave.  We use the Ryobi Tire Inflator Deflator for this task.  We can set the PSI number and inflate the tires or take the pressure off if needed.  We can charge it and have it ready to go on demand.  My husband can't stop raving about this tool and quickly he can get this done before we go. I think he actually enjoys this job because of how easy it is!

We love our Ryobi Inflator/Deflator.  It makes getting ready for trips so easy!

Tires are also rated for maximum speed.  You need to know this number.  Don't plan to drive your RV like a typical car or as if nothing is behind you.  You will not be able to stop as quickly with a travel trailer behind you. Slow down and enjoy the drive.  Be safe!  It's not a race to the campground even if you are racing internally to get there.

Weight Distribution Hitch

When we upgraded our RV, we added a weight-distribution hitch with sway control.  We have the ReCurve from Camco.  There was a bit of a learning curve to hooking this up.  Now that we have gotten the hang of it, we are hitched up in less than 30 minutes every time!  Our dealer recommended this particular one when we bought our RV, and it super easy to use and does exactly what it is supposed to do.

The ReCurve from Camco is an easy and effective tool for towing safely.  It will distribute weight and help with sway.

This product will adapt as you turn and maneuver your tow vehicle and trailer.  It controls the sway when going down the road giving you a smoother ride.  It will give you more peace of mind, and make towing a better experience overall.  

We did not have a weight-distribution hitch or sway bar on our pop up camper.  It was not necessary for how light and small our camper was at that time.  Until we moved up to a travel trailer, we didn't feel like this was a necessary tool.

Properly Attach Your Trailer

You may think this is a given, and it should be.  However, we just left a campground where a family was not connected correctly/fully to the trailer.  Their trailer came off of the ball hitch when they went over a speed bump on the way out!  Yikes!

Make sure that your RV is fully coupled to the hitch and locked in place.  Also be sure to attach the safety pin, safety chains, and brake lights.  Test your lights and ensure that they are properly working.  This is a team effort on the part of my husband and me.   He and I each have tasks and check behind each other as we go.

Eliminate Distractions

Before you drive off, make sure that you put your directions into your GPS.  If you have a vehicle that will play your directions through the audio system.  Make sure that you have everything you need and ready before you go!  

Be sure to adjust your mirrors to the proper location for the correct visibility.  Also, put your vehicle into towing mode.  You don't want to be fiddling with things going down the road.  Once driving you should be focused on driving!

Additional Gear for Improved Visibility

What else could you possibly need?  We have a tow vehicle that already has built-in towing mirrors that work fine for us.  But, some people will recommend additional towing mirrors.  Our friend recommended this set of towing mirrors for a Ford F-150.  You can check your vehicle's make and model to determine the right set for you.  Towing mirrors will allow you to see more behind you as you are traveling down the road.  This can make a big difference if you are changing lanes and driving in traffic.

Many RV's now come pre-wired for a backup camera.  You may think that a backup camera is only for that purpose.  Our friend Josh says he likes his back up camera to see behind him when towing down the road.  Adding a backup camera to your RV can be a great aid for getting into a spot, but it can also add to your line of sight when towing as well!

Get On the Road

Once you are on the road, pay attention to your surroundings.  Take it easy and slow down.  Driving fast can be detrimental to you and others on the road.  Monitor where you are on the road and keep it within your lines.  Pay attention and keep your eyes on the road.  

Also, if you are towing for a long distance, it is important to stop often and take breaks.  Stop every couple of hours if you can.  For us, it happens naturally because our son will almost always need a bathroom break!  Get out and stretch your legs.  If you are traveling with someone, take turns.  But, don't let yourself or the other driver get too tired.  A sleepy or tired driver is a bad thing!  This can be as dangerous as poorly inflated tires.  

If you set yourself up for success, you can tow a vehicle with no worries.  And, it won't be as scary as you think.  I have towed our RV through Birmingham a couple of times this summer.  We made it through the toll booth with no issues.  All of these things used to scare me and seem overwhelming.  But, I have overcome these fears, and much of this is because we have taken the time to learn how to set up everything for an easy and safe towing experience before we ever get out on the highway.

Until next time...

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board.