Travel isn’t always exotic hotels or flights – in Canada camping and hauling a trailer is very popular and economical!
Here are some helpful points to keep in mind when you head out on the highway with your RV combination.
- Know how heavy your load is. Most recreational trailers weigh less than 4,600 kg. If your trailer weighs under 4,600 kg (fully loaded), your Class 5 or 7 licence is all you need. If your load is over 4,600 kg fully loaded and you hold a Class 4 or 5 licence, you need to get a house trailer endorsement or hold a different class licence.
- Understand your vehicle towing requirements. Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you the maximum weight your vehicle can tow. Do not exceed this amount as it will put you, your trailer and others at risk. Most manufacturers have trailer towing packages including: type of engine, transmission (heavy duty), cooling systems, axles and suspension, power brakes, steering, tires, mirrors, electrical system and more. Make sure your truck is equipped for the trailer you intend to tow.
- Know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the trailer including its load, and how much of that weight is on the hitch, to calculate if the truck is capable of towing the trailer. There is usually a plate or a decal on the trailer indicating the GVWR. This is the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight of the trailer and its load.
- Do a pre-trip inspection. You should conduct an inspection of your truck and trailer at least daily and, when travelling, every time you stop. The inspection includes: checking under the hood, checking gauges in the cab, walking around the truck and trailer to check lights, tire pressure and mechanical components, making sure boats and other items on travel trailers are securely buckled down. The final step is to pull ahead slowly and check for brake and steering response. ICBC has compiled a detailed list of things to check in their pre trip inspection document.
- Realize that speed and weight affect stopping power. Understand what is required of you and your vehicle combination to move and to stop. This includes giving yourself adequate stopping distance and stopping time (at least five seconds between you and vehicle in front of you). As always, inclement weather, construction zones, emergency work, and other unique situations on highways may require you to slow down or even stop with short notice. Be prepared and stay focussed.
- Keep safety in mind at all times. This is a given for all road trips you take but staying safe while travelling with your trailer ensures your journey will end well for everyone. A few things to remember:
- Passengers are never allowed to travel in the trailer.
- Propane appliances should be completely closed during travel and equipped with detectors to alert you of a leak.
- Carry a fire extinguisher on board in case of fire.
- Make sure water valves are closed, power lines are disconnected and all vents and awnings are completely closed before you take off.
- Make sure ATVs and boats are properly secured to the trailer.
- Regular vehicle maintenance is another important part of travelling with or without a recreational trailer; keeping your pride and joy road ready will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
- Refresh yourself on the rules of the road. It’s always a good time to refresh your knowledge of BC road signs. Take this practice test.
Any brave travellers out there that love to use an RV?