The ability to drive safely with a trailer is a clearly useful skill. It gives users freedom to transport static loads and live animals as far as their licence allows, without the need for a trailer test. Nevertheless, the prospect of driving with a trailer can also fill people with trepidation, so here are some tips to make the process easier.
- More people can drive with a trailer since a regulation change in 2021.
- Many people still find it a daunting activity.
- Tips for safe manoeuvring can help make it easier.
The reality of driving, manoeuvring and parking with a trailer can be more challenging than many people realise. It’s certainly not simply a case of hitching the trailer and driving away. It takes practice and perseverance, but by following a few tips, trailer users can soon go ahead with a bit more faith in their ability.
Firstly, take confidence from the obvious – that if you can drive forwards through a space, you must be able to reverse backwards through it too.
Early on in your trailer relationship, take the time you need to become aware of the area you’ll take up when trailer and towing vehicle are hitched together – particularly lengthwise. And even when you are aware, it will definitely help if you can pick generously proportioned parking spaces.
Get into the habit of adjusting and using your mirrors a great deal when manoeuvring a trailer. They are your reversing friends. You need to be able to see the trailer so can start to recognise a few points or markers on it that you can use to give perspective and gauge distances.
Until you’re confident about your ability to judge distances and get your bearings (and even when you are), there’s nothing wrong with getting out and looking at your positioning so that you can see how much more you need to manoeuvre.
As you reverse into a space, drive slowly and steer. The more slowly you drive, the easier it is to compensate. Smaller trailers react to your steering more than bigger ones, so the slower you’re moving, your less likely you are to be find yourself in a tricky position that is harder to get out of than it was to get in to. Moving slowly means that you can avoid problems by reacting quickly and not overcompensating.
If you notice the angle of the trailer from the towing vehicle is becoming steeper, stop, pull further forward, and try again so you’re moving in more of a gentle arc.
Finally, if you can keep a calm head, slow down, and try to practice before you hit the open road, parking and manoeuvring your trailer will soon become easier. Remember – you learned to drive so you can learn to drive with a trailer.