Driving: How To Drive With a Trailer
The following information applies to driving with any trailer regardless of whether you have purchase one of our excellent Foldy Trailers or not. It is important your trailer meets all the legal road worthy requirements and is kept in good working order.
So now you’ve packed up your trailer and you’re ready to go. It goes without saying that driving safely should always be kept in mind when driving, especially when towing a trailer. Specifically to the Foldy Trailer, here are some tips for maintaining a high level of road safety.
Before Setting Off
Before you drive off with a trailer, make sure you have met the legal road worthy requirements for towing a trailer. This means you should:
- Double check that your load corresponds to that you can tow with the class of trailer you are towing. Even though the Foldy Trailer has been thoroughly tested with loads exceeding 2 tonnes, it is classed as a O1 trailer, meaning the total towing weight of the trailer and cargo load should not exceed 750kg. A full car licence (category B) lets you tow trailers weighing no more than 750kg. You can also tow heavier trailers with a car as long as the total weight of the vehicle and trailer isn’t more than 3,500kg and provided the weight of the trailer (including cargo load) is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.
- Your trailer width including load doesn’t exceed 2.55m and a length of 7m.
- Ensure the tow bar installed on your car is approved and meets EU/UK regulations.
- Check if your trailer, including its tow load, does not obscure your view. If so, you must attach extendable mirrors to be able to see behind the trailer unobstructed.
- Verify that your number plate on the trailer is the same as your car and properly illuminated if dark.
Spare Wheel Position and Driving in the EU
Packing your trailer for a family holiday in France or elsewhere in Europe is often done with great enthusiasm. However, one very important safety precaution is often overlooked by trailer owners and that is the position of the spare wheel for their trailer.
If your spare wheel is attached to the side or underside of your trailer, it should be positions to be only accessible from the non-traffic side of the road. That is, if you are travelling in the UK, your spare wheel must be mounted on the left side of the trailer and if you are travelling in Europe, it must be mounted on the right side of the trailer.
Why is this so important? Your risk to severe injury and even road side fatality is highest when working on the side of the trailer with your back to the traffic. This applies regardless of whether you have safely parked your car and trailer off the side of the road or not. It is therefore paramount for your own safety that the spare wheel always be mounted on the non-traffic side of the trailer for safe access.
Always ensure you place hazard triangles at least 45m (147 feet) behind your vehicle and trailer in the event of a mechanical breakdown or punctured tyre. Do not attempt to work on your car or trailer if it is not safe to do so. Please call the local traffic authority and road side assistance for support and stand safely together with all other occupants away from your car.
Our Foldy Trailer spare wheel mounting bracket is designed for both the left and right side of the trailer and clearly indicates which mounting points to use for the UK or EU driving. For more information, we ask you to refer to the documentation provided with the spare wheel mounting bracket for the Foldy Trailer.
Driving With a Trailer
Driving on the open road with a trailer isn’t too difficult if you follow these tips:
- Don’t go over 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.
- Go 30mph on all roads with street lighting unless signs indicate otherwise.
- You may not use the outside (fast) lane of three-lane motorways and dual carriageways (but you can do so on two lane country roads).
- Give yourself lots of time and space to do everything, particularly when taking corners. Drive further forwards before swinging round or turning into corners to give your towing trailer enough room to make the turn cleanly. Otherwise, the trailer will cut the corner behind you possibly causing an accident.
- Never ever drive with people in the trailer.
- Try and keep the trailer as balanced as possible by distributing the cargo weight evenly on the cargo bay and securing it down properly with the appropriate fasteners so it won’t move around.
- Maintain longer following distance between yourself and the car in front of you and allow much more space for braking and brake more gently. Remember, braking and acceleration is reduced proportional to the load being towed. For your own safety and the safety of other road users, it is necessary to take the increased brake distance and acceleration time into consideration when driving. You are, therefore, obligated to adapt your driving style to encompass the changes in braking and acceleration parameters.
- Give yourself a longer distance when overtaking other vehicles. Always remember that your Foldy trailer extends the rear of your car by an additional 3m.
- Remember to give yourself extra width if the trailer or its load is wider than the towing vehicle.
- Drive conservatively by avoiding frequent hard braking and acceleration. Maintaining smooth acceleration and slow braking will not only be more economical (and result in lower emissions), but also result in a higher average speed and safer driving.
Reversing With a Trailer
Unfortunately reversing back with a trailer is not as easy as going forwards and requires practice and patience to get right. One thing to remember is when you drive forwards and steer the car through a turn, the trailer follows the towing car because it is being pulled. But when you reverse the trailer it will pivot in the opposite direction of you turning the steering wheel because it is being pushed by the car. The motion at the rear of your car causes the trailer to be pushed sideways by the tow hitch, turning it in the opposite direction of the car.
Start reversing slowly, steering the opposite way to the way you want to turn, which will turn your trailer in the direction you wish to go. Once the trailer begins to swing round, start to straighten up your steering to follow the trailers direction of motion with that of the car. Continue to steer the car round in line with your trailer, then straighten the steering again, and complete the reverse by driving straight back.
We recommend you practice reversing with a trailer in an empty car park or open area. If need be, have someone outside help you by giving you turning directions.