If you’re traveling long distances or taking an extended trip on the road, traveling by RV or towing a fifth wheel trailer behind you can provide you with a comfortable and convenient home on wheels. In either case, it is critical you are familiar with operating the rig with safety in mind. Experience is needed to drive while towing a fifth wheel, and there are a few things to remember as you prepare yourself for a trip:
Utilize Your Visual Range
When you’re driving a truck, you’ll be relying on your side mirrors and rear view to guide you through safe maneuvering of your fifth wheel. Your range of vision can be a little limited and you’ll need to pay close attention to corners and turns. Some people however, will use extended mirrors on their side mirrors to give them some extended views on the sides of their tow. If you are traveling with your fifth wheel hitched to your vehicle more than not, it might be a smart idea to consider a more permanent solution for extended mirrors.
Be Cautious of the Weather
Of course it is more risky to travel with your fifth wheel in tow through intense weather, and it should be avoided if possible. Consider the height and weight of your fifth-wheel and review any forecasted weather for the areas you’ll be traveling through. Large gusts and windy plains can be very dangerous for those towing a trailer or a fifth-wheel. It makes your vehicle work harder to pull the trailer as well, so when you experience heavy winds, just take the time to get off the road and let it pass.
Understand Weight Limits or Restrictions
Depending on what you are towing, the weight can be quite different and necessary for you to get used to pulling. It is important to learn about the weights of your fifth-wheel and how to operate it safely. You’ll want to load it up with all of the supplies you might bring on a trip, and be sure you feel comfortable pulling the heavier load.
Don’t underestimate the weight of the fifth-wheel while on the highway or making turns. Towing something heavy behind you can cause your vehicle to fishtail and cause some dangerous situations. Just take it slow and steady, and me mindful of stopping, leaving plenty of room for you to make your stop gradually.
Practice Maneuvering with Weight
A smart idea is taking the time to practice these maneuvers in your vehicle with the full load hitched. Make your way through some different turns, on the highway, through towns, or places nearby to help you feel comfortable and gain some insight into any intricacies you can remember. The best way to learn is by doing the driving yourself, and allowing yourself time to gauge the size needed for parking, time for braking, and steering for turns you might run into on the road.
Check Your Connections Regularly
As you travel on highways or through any bumpy desert roads, your vehicle and fifth-wheel will bump right along with you. The connection between the two will also get a bit rattled around during your travels, so it is important to be mindful of the connection point. Each time you stop for fuel, take the time (and make it part of your routine) to check the connection point at your hitch. Make sure the lights are still connected and working, and double-check the hitch is secured fully and safely. Things can loosen or become less secure fairly easily when traveling long distances, so making this simple task a habit will only ensure the safety of your journey in the long run.
Be Mindful of Tires
Avoiding a tire blowout is always a good idea. It can be accomplished by simply keeping a close eye on the tires of your fifth-wheel. Depending on how long you’ve had them or how often the trailer gets used, you’ll need to pay closer attention. Tires on your trailer should last somewhere around 5 years, but if they have been sitting unused for longer periods of time, they may have gotten more dry and might be more susceptible to cracking. Simply looking at your tires can’t be a clear indicator of the state they are actually in, since sometimes the inside have become dry or rotten. If you aren’t sure and your tires are over 5 years old, it might be worthwhile to just get some new ones to ensure your safety.
Don’t Allow for Distractions
Many of us feel comfortable driving and can operate the radio or something similar when we are out on the road. While you may even be driving the same vehicle as you normally do when towing a fifth-wheel, the situation completely changes for the driver. You will need to make sure you eliminate all distractions while actually operating your vehicle. The difference in weight and how you interact with the trailer are much more complicated and require a close attention to detail. You’ll want to make sure your phone is not on-hand to allow you to become distracted by a call or message. Set yourself up with radio or a music choice before embarking on your trip to minimize your focus of anything but the road.
Plan a Friendly/Easy Route
Before heading out on a longer trip, plan out the main route for the entire journey. Make sure to take note of anything that might be more stressful, like two-lane highways or long stretches of road without any stops. Be sure to look up what kinds of incline you might have to drive up or what altitude changes might occur during your drive.
Getting ready to head out on the road with your fifth-wheel in tow? Check in with us at WillowWind RV Park for the perfect home base for all your adventures in Southern Utah. Our parking spots give you access to our clubhouse, where you can mingle with fellow campers and RV enthusiasts. Make sure to get in contact with us to make your reservations and ensure your space.