You’ve got a big thermos of hot chocolate.
A long playlist of Christmas songs.
Seat heaters getting you cozy and comfortable behind the wheel.
So are you ready for a long winter drive?
Not until you’ve done a winter towing safety check for your trailer.
Winter drives can be lovely and scenic—until they suddenly become totally terrifying. With ice on the roads, wind at your sides, or heavy snow smacking the windshield, you and your trailer need to be prepared for dangerous situations.
Follow our winter towing tips below to keep yourself, your horses, and your cargo safe on the road this season.
Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering
Before we get to the list: the most important safety rule you can follow is to keep off icy roads whenever possible. If you don’t need to drive in rough winter weather, don’t!
It’s also important to get familiar with general trailer safety rules for driving in any season, which you can do here.
1. Get Your Regular Maintenance Check
Before any long trip, make sure your trailer is up to date on its regular maintenance checks. This is the most efficient way to ensure a safe drive without breakdowns.
2. Consider Snow Chains or Snow Tires for Your Trailer
Snow-ready tires can keep you stable in inclement weather. They’re especially important for safely slowing down or breaking on winter roads.
If you’re not sure whether your route will take you into the snow, it’s smart to at least have a set of snow-ready tires stowed away.
3. Check the Battery
Cold temperatures tend to cause older batteries to die. If your battery is more than a few years old, consider replacing it before your drive.
4. Clear Snow off the Top of the Trailer
Grab a stepstool and a broom to clear snow off the top of your trailer. This will prevent a chunk of snow from dropping down on your tow vehicle when you brake. It will also keep other drivers safe—you won’t be shedding snow and ice into the road as you drive.
5. Know the Stopping Points Along Your Route
Don’t just wing it with your GPS! If weather conditions get too bad, you’ll need a safe place to pull over and wait it out. Travelmath has a handy tool that will calculate stopping points along your route for you.
6. Carry an Emergency Kit
Ideally, you already have a roadside emergency kit stowed in your trailer with flares, water, equine first-aid supplies, etc. For winter drives, make sure you’ve got spare warm gloves and hats stored in a dry space, ice scrapers, and tire traction mats in case you get stuck in slush.
7. Get Familiar with Your Brake Controller’s Manual Override
Your trailer brake controller has a manual override—usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button. It lets you hit the trailer brakes directly from the controller (bypassing the tow vehicle brakes). So if you go into a slide or a skid on icy roads, hitting the manual override can pull you out of it.
8. Drive Slow with Lots of Stopping Distance
This is true whenever you’re trailering, but especially when roads are icy. Braking hard can cause your rig to skid or jackknife easily.
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