A car trailer is the ideal solution for transporting larger loads. A trailer can be quickly hitched up and the load volume of the vehicle and trailer combination is often surprisingly large. But what many drivers don’t consider is that driving with a trailer also involves risks. Our car experts give you tips for safe driving with a trailer.
Which trailer am I allowed to drive?
Before you get behind the wheel of a team, you should first clarify the question of which trailer you are allowed to drive. Holders of driving license class B are normally allowed to drive trailers with a maximum permissible total weight of 3.5 tons – whereby the total mass of the towing vehicle and the trailer are simply added together.
If you want to drive even larger trailers, for example in the form of a large caravan, you must have the key number 96 added to your Class B driver’s license. This makes it possible to drive trailers with a total weight of up to 4.25 tons. However, this requires theoretical and practical driver training.
In addition, you should find out whether the towing capacity of the towing vehicle is sufficient to pull the trailer in question. For example, a passenger car with a maximum towing capacity of 1.8 tons may not pull a 2-ton trailer. When driving with a trailer, safety should always come first. The respective information on the maximum towing capacity can be found in the vehicle registration papers.
What do I have to consider when driving with a trailer?
When driving with a trailer, there is a lot for drivers to consider. If you are driving with a trailer for the first time, you should first slowly familiarize yourself with the unfamiliar driving behavior before jumping into the traffic. An enclosed area or a less frequented parking lot is a good place to do this. Here you can practice reversing with the trailer. When reversing, it is important to drive slowly and maintain constant eye contact with the trailer in order to be able to control it. The most important basic principle when reversing with a trailer is to reverse the steering. If you want to move the trailer backwards to the left, the rear of the vehicle must swing out to the right. If you want to move the trailer backwards to the right, you have to do the same the other way round. This tip can be very helpful, especially in the beginning.
Most of the time, of course, you will move the trailer forward. However, many drivers are not aware that the braking distance can increase by up to 50 percent when driving with a trailer. It is therefore important to drive with extra foresight when towing a trailer and to keep to the speed limit. There is a general speed limit of 80 km/h for driving with a trailer. With a special permit, 100 km/h is also permitted. But a longer braking distance is not the only potential danger. Other risks lurk in the form of poor load securing and outdated tires. Tires older than six years should be replaced even if the tread depth is still good, as the rubber hardens over time and forms cracks. The load should ideally be secured with tension belts to prevent it from slipping during the journey and thus a sudden change in load.
Often unaware of the gross vehicle weight rating, many drivers overload their rig. However, if the trailer is overloaded, there is a risk that it will break away and start to lurch. If the trailer starts to sway, it is important to take your foot off the accelerator immediately and brake gently.
Before driving with a trailer, it is essential to check not only that the trailer drawbar is securely fastened, but also that all electrical connections, turn signals, brake lights and taillights are in good working order. The tire pressure should also be checked and, if necessary, the air pressure adjusted to the weight of the load.