Towing 101: Load Matters

Posted: November 7, 2013 by Bunce Rental in Towing

The trailer is hooked up to the truck. The lights are working.  Now it’s time to load the trailer.  Loading a trailer correctly is one of the most important steps of safe towing.  Safe driving practices and maneuvering are very important components, but safety truly begins with the proper loading of your trailer.  Proper positioning and securing of the load is key to driving your load safely from Point A to Point B.

Position Your Load

Loading your trailer heavier in the front (towards the vehicle) helps prevent swaying and whipping.  A trailer loaded heavier in the rear half will sway at a certain speed and can progress into whipping if you increase your speed.  The correct way to load a trailer is to put 60% of the cargo weight in the front half of the trailer (sitting forward of the front axle) and evenly distributed from side to side to provide stability.  The load may not extend more than three feet from the trailer and the height of your load may not be more than thirteen feet from the ground.

Do Not Overload Your Trailer

Proper loading is essential to safe towing.  Overloading (exceeding the trailers capacity or your towing capacity) a trailer can cause serious injury or equipment damage.  Certain items, like forklifts or scissors-lifts, may have too much of their weight centralized in a small footprint for safe towing.  Even though the overall weight may be less than the rated capacity of the trailer, these high density loads make it impossible to distribute the weight of the machine or load across the trailer, which is not only unsafe – but can also cause damage to the equipment or trailer.  For example, a 5000# forklift on a wood decked trailer will fall through the wood decking.

Secure your load

Once you have your trailer loaded as mentioned above, use cargo straps, chains, or tie-downs to secure your load to the trailer.  This will restrict the load from shifting while being moved, which not only prevents damage to your load or cargo – but also maintains the stability of the trailer by keeping the load heavier in the front half.  If hauling loose debris, we recommend covering it with a tarp to prevent material from falling out and obstructing the road or the view of other drivers.  Prior to hitting the road, check the trailer for loose items such as tools, trash, or even spare parts that could become a road hazard while towing your trailer.


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