Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Towing Safety Redux

I am all about safety as most of you are painfully aware. You can never be “too safe” and mitigating against risk is always high on my priority list. One thing I was very persistent with was towing my pop up safely. When I purchased the pop up I was given a primer on towing it safely and I was really disappointed with what I was told.

I had them install a Class III hitch on my truck along with wiring, I was told by a lady at the place where I bought the pop up, “you can just tow this on the bumper!” I quickly said no thanks please order and install a hitch. The pop up is close to 1800 lbs dry weight, technically I could tow it with a bumper hitch but I don’t believe that would be safe.

I also told them to install a brake controller in my truck because the pop up I bought had electric brakes and they said, “Well you really don’t need that because the trailer limit for brakes in South Carolina is 2000 lbs.” I said no thank you; please install the controller and the wiring so I can use the electronic brakes.

I told them to install a deep cycle battery on the pop up, they said “why, that only powers the 12 volt lighting and refrigerator?”, I said because I want to have the breakaway switch on the pop up actually work should the trailer become detached. A breakaway switch will not function without a battery; once the trailer is detached from the tow vehicle power is lost, electronic brakes need power. A breakaway switch for those that don’t know is a device that applies the trailer brakes to the trailer should it accidentally become separated from the tow vehicle while traveling. This will protect your trailer and the people traveling around you from a runaway trailer with a mind hell bent on destruction.

I was shocked honestly, how many people are out there towing pop ups with a bumper and no brakes? Are they crazy? Apparently I am the one that is crazy. There is a law in South Carolina that a trailer must have a breakaway switch but it mentions nothing about a battery. That is like saying well you need a flashlight when it gets dark but saying batteries are optional, kind of dumb don’t you think?

I know some of you will say jeez you are paranoid; it is a pop up camper for crying out loud! Yes but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Do you care about your family? Do you want the kids in the vehicle that is bumper towing a 2000 lb trailer when you have to slam on the brakes because of some idiot cutting you off and you trailer having no trailer brakes? That is just an accident waiting to happen. Not to mention your tow vehicle; add 2000lbs to the weight your tow vehicles brakes need to stop now and tell me how long your brakes will last or what the minimum stopping distance you need now? It is just some common sense folks; spend a few hundred dollars more for peace of mind and you and your families’ safety.

Here are some recommendations that will help you tow your load, no matter what its size, safely:

1.) Use a bigger class size hitch than needed – if you only need a Class II hitch spend a few more bucks and just get a Class III hitch installed.

2.) Avoid bumper towing all but the smallest of trailers.

3.) Always use safety chains and always cross them when hooking them up.

4.) If you have electronic brakes use them! Get a brake controller and make sure you have it installed correctly! Hydraulic (surge) brakes are better than nothing. Brakes will save wear and tear on your tow vehicle and may save your life!

5.) Make sure your trailer has a breakaway switch and a battery (small trailers can skip this – follow your local laws). Make sure the switch is hooked up correctly, mine needs to be attached to one of the safety chains for example.

These are just a few simple ways to ensure your towing experience is safe and you get to your destination with your trailer intact. Towing is something everyone should know how to do and everyone should be comfortable with as you never know when you may need to do it.

Tip: Remember when backing up a trailer turn the steering wheel in the OPPOSITE direction you want the trailer to go.

...that is all.

 Subscribe to Be A Survivor and Follow me on Twitter

Buy Be A Survivor stuff! ~ Donate to Be A Survivor! ~ Join "The Survivalists"!


  1. Great post Flea. You'd think the dealer would be all about safety to cover their own butts.

    Kentucky Preppers Network

  2. Good information, my friend! Thank you...

  3. Don't know what kind of popup you're pulling, but be sure to check whether your water tank has baffles.
    I learned (almost the hard way)that mine didn't when I left the tank half full and hit the interstate. Everything was fine up until about 60 mph, when the thing started swaying.
    I didn't hit the brakes (that would have been bad) and I couldn't really accelerate out of the sway, so I just let off the gas and tried to keep it under control.
    We drove with an empty water tank after that!

  4. I lost a motorcycle trailer after the ball came loose! I'd just welded it up at a buddie's shop,no safety chain or anything yet.I saw it come loose on a 2 lane road,with a car coming,of course! I just nailed the brake's and let it hit my bumper.After it all came to a stop,I had to cut a piece of barb wire from a fence,tie it on,and drive dirt road's the last 10 mile's home.Since then,I alway's use a lock washer,and put a tack weld on the ball behind the nut.
    Dean in az

  5. Please when you get a moment go to www.dangeroustrailers.org In the United States anybody can build one as long it is just one pound under 3,000 pounds.

    We even have 8 states that do not require safety chains... U Haul, Carry On trailers and www.NATM.com has tried to undo my relfector tape law in Virginia because they said they could not afford to put on $8.00 of Tape.

    Why... is this allowed to happen.....

    Since 1976 over 15,000 people have been killed... Since 1988 over 449,000 injured and over 1,500,000 vehicles... have been damaged or destroyed.

    8 Police officers,, 2 Fireman and 1 FBI agent have been killed and nothing...........

    An Inventor contacted me... go to my web site at www.dangeroustrailers.org and look for the SAFETY SENTRY INC IN THE MIDDLE...

    Very Few people know how to hook up safety chains... they are to long... or to short...they are most oftern not rated to the amount of weight they need to work.

    Just today I captured by photo 9 with expired inspections and 15 with non working lights... no fenders.... and even holes in the gates..

  6. Here are a few examples of what is happening...




    and go here to view....Safety Sentry...


  7. To all..... this person really cares about public safety.... The issue is this person and every one's else lives are in danger because most people will not go to the extent because of cost to make sure his trailer is safe.

    You are amazing...it is my hope you can feature my web site www.dangeroustrailers.org..

    Just today!!! I got another accident...
    IN North Dakota..

    I will post it tonight on my web site...

  8. I was always taught, when backing up with a trailer, put your hand at 12 o'clock on the wheel, the trailer will go the same direction as your hand.