Safety Tips for Driving with a Trailer

Jun 16 2015

Camping in your RV is a blast. Who doesn’t love camping under the stars, hanging with good friends and enjoying nature?

As the saying goes, getting there is half the fun. But when you’re towing a heavy, expensive trailer, getting to the campsite of your dreams can be a headache. How can you drive safely when you’re towing an RV? If you’re a fifth wheel, tow-behind or pop-up owner, you’ve got to know these rules.


  • Read your owner’s manual. Know what your RV’s manufacturer recommends when it comes to towing your RV.

  • Avoid sudden stops or starts. This can cause your RV to jackknife, skid or slide.

  • Make wider turns at corners or curves. Because your trailer’s wheels are closer to the inside of a turn than the wheels of your tow vehicle, they are more likely to hit or ride up over curbs.


  • Allow plenty of space for braking.

  • If you have an electric trailer brake controller and sway occurs, activate the trailer brake controller. Do not attempt to control trailer sway by applying the tow vehicle brakes.

  • Always anticipate the need to slow down.


  • Avoid passing vehicles on hills. When possible, pass on level terrain.

  • Do not pass on roads with a soft shoulder. Accelerating on loose terrain could cause your trailer to jackknife or lose control.

  • If needed, downshift for improved acceleration or control.



  • The brakes of your RV can overheat if pressed for too long while going downhill. On long downgrades, apply brakes only at intervals.

  • Downshift to add power to climbing hills.

  • Don’t rush climbing steep hills! Take your time and stay to the right.



  • Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. To turn left, move your hand left. To turn right, move your hand right. Back up slowly. Because mirrors cannot provide all of the visibility you may need when backing up, have someone outside at the rear of the trailer to guide you, whenever possible.

  • Don’t exaggerate movements when steering—keep wheel movements slight and cautious.


  • Try to avoid parking on hills.

  • If possible, have someone outside your trailer when you’re parking. Communicate to them through a walkie-talkie.

  • When uncoupling a trailer, place blocks at the front and rear of the trailer tires to ensure that the trailer does not roll away when the coupling is released.