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Tips for Towing a Boat Trailer to Reduce Accidents and Insurance Claims

Boat Loaded on a Trailer
Boat Loaded on a Trailer by dimitrisvetsikas1969

Owning a boat can make weekends and vacations fun and memorable. Follow these tips to help ensure that when you’re towing your boat you’re being as safe as possible to lower the risk of accidents and unwanted insurance claims.

Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Powerful Enough for Towing

Many people underestimate the amount of power they need to tow a boat. It’s actually better to overestimate the power necessary than to fall short. The general rule of thumb is you need at least 15 percent more capacity than the weight of the boat fully loaded plus your trailer.

This gives you a buffer for accelerating during a highway merge, for example, or climbing a steep hill without straining your vehicle’s engine. It also reduces the risk of trailer sway behind your vehicle, which can cause catastrophic accidents.

Invest in a Good Trailer System

Always use the best trailer you can afford, both to protect your boat and to enjoy smooth travel on the road. You want to make sure braking and signaling are integrated with your vehicle, so cars traveling behind your boat know when you’re turning, slowing down, or stopping. Other trailer features are nice, but safety should be paramount when making your selection.

Use Safe Driving Practices Meant for Towing

You can’t drive the way you normally would when towing a boat; instead, you need to use driving techniques meant for towing, such as:

  • Giving yourself a greater stopping distance to allow for the additional momentum you have with a boat behind you. Don’t tailgate, and slow down if you think you might need to stop soon, such as when you know a yellow light is imminent.

  • Remember you need more space when changing lanes. Signal first to alert other drivers, and make sure you have room between vehicles for you and your boat. Get in the habit of double checking with your mirrors and performing a shoulder check before you make your final lane change.

  • Use your directional signals liberally. If you must drive well below the speed limit, use your hazard lights (aka “flashers”) to alert other drivers.

  • In general, you’ll be going at or below the speed limit, so stay to the center or the right whenever possible, and let other traffic pass you.

  • Use pull-through parking, so you don’t have to deal with backing up with a boat.

If you don’t have a lot of experience towing a boat, it’s smart to practice in less busy areas before hitting the highway on a packed holiday weekend. Make sure you’re completely comfortable before putting yourself in more high-stress situations. Many areas offer boat trailering classes that are well worth it to give you more tips, practice in controlled environments, and confidence.

Protect Your Car and Your Boat With the Right Insurance

No matter where you’re driving, you want to make sure you’re operating legally and responsibly with the right auto insurance and boat insurance policies in case of an accident. Our independent agents at C. Don Filer Agency can help you find the right coverage, so you can enjoy your boat knowing your vessel and the vehicle towing it are properly insured. Give us a call at 206-343-2323, or request a quote online at any time.