How to Perfect Your Boat Trailering Skills

In Southwestern Ontario, the population in lakefront cottage country skyrockets during the summer months. Every July and August, families and friends pack up their vehicles and begin their journeys to find water. The weather throughout the year fails to permit many water related activities, so summertime provides the ideal climate for boating enthusiasts to dust off their trusted vessels and take them out for a spin.

[Image source: How Stuff Works: Auto

If you’re planning on bringing your pleasure craft out of hiding this summer and spending some quality time with it on the lake, you may want to brush up on the safety precautions you must take when trailering it behind your vehicle on the 400 series highway.

Know your Limits 

First things first, what is your cars capacity for towing? Before you hook your boat onto your vehicle, you’ll need to take a peek in the owner’s manual to ensure that you can, in fact, safely tow it behind you. If your boat is on the small side, and you possess top of the line towing equipment, a smaller vehicle may be able to do the trick. However, when you’re towing a large piece of machinery, it is not the time to take chances. Ensure that you stick to the guidelines that your manual includes and you’ll enjoy a smooth ride to the water.

Operating your Vehicle

Naturally, when your car is towing a heavy object, you’re going to have to amend your typical driving habits for the safety of yourself and others on the road. If you’ve never towed a boat before, it’s great practice to head on down to an empty parking lot to get a tangible feel for how your car moves with your boat attached to it. 

  • Accelerating: When driving on the highway, your acceleration speeds will be quite slower than usual, so give yourself more time when passing other vehicles and merging. 
  • Breaking: Additionally, you’ll also notice that slowing your vehicle down takes longer, thus, you must allow more distance between yourself and other cars when driving and breaking.
  • Turning: When turning with a boat in tow, it’s imperative that you swing wide, as your boat makes turns on a far tighter arc than your vehicle does.
  • Blind spots: In order to avoid accidents when driving on the highway with a boat trailer, you’ll need to be extremely cautious when changing lanes. Blind spots are larger when a boat is in tow, so be careful and ensure that there is no risk for collision by confirming that your mirrors are adjusted to accommodate the lack of visibility. 

Have a Backup Plan 

As always, having a backup plan in the case of an emergency is a fundamental step towards preventing accidents. Before embarking upon your trip, make plans with a family member or friend who can follow behind you the entire way. Furthermore, ensure you have all the tools and manuals in your car that were necessary for initially assembling your boat trailer. 

Then, if something goes awry, find the first safe place to pull over and put your hazard lights on. While you do this, the person who was behind you can drive to the nearest hardware store to get the tools necessary to fix the issue that you may not have on hand. Furthermore, if the problem appears unfixable at that present moment, they can drive you home or call for help to assist in getting your vehicle and boat off the side of the highway.

The summer months are the ideal time for boating, and learning how to properly operate your vehicle with a pleasure craft in tow is a vital skill that will allow you to enjoy lake life for all that it is worth. At Harris law, we cannot stress enough the magnitude of how simply educating oneself can dramatically lower the risk of injury and accident. Before hitting the road, it’s imperative that you have done the proper research to ensure that you are knowledgeable on how to tow safely. Unfortunately, highway accidents involving boat trailers still occur. If you have been injured in a collision with a boat trailer that was the result of another party’s negligence, contact us today.