How To Drive Safely While Carrying A Load

How To Drive Safely While Carrying A Load
There are a lot of reasons you might carry a load on top of your car or pull one on a trailer behind you, including: moving to a new home, going on family vacation, going camping, and bringing home a large Christmas tree. You can never afford to neglect following proper safety precautions when you drive, but the dangers of getting into an accident are even higher when you’re hauling items on your vehicle.
Here are some safety tips to help you move your property safely and legally.

Hauling Items On Your Roof Rack
Not tying down a load properly on top of your car can result in your property becoming road debris, obstructing traffic, and possibly hitting someone behind you. It can also get you a heavy fine or worse.

Here are some tips to follow to minimize the risks:

  • Load lighter items on the bottom, and heavier items on top.
  • If an item is rather large, tie it down in direct contact with the roof rack, regardless of its weight.
  • Don’t allow the load to reach past the front or back bumper.
  • Tightly pack items together to form as solid a unit as possible, but also distribute the weight evenly.
  • Use ratchet straps for large loads (with bands at least two inches wide). But you can use ropes, chains, or strong netting for smaller loads, if you wish.
  • Consider covering the whole load with a tarp. This will prevent “blow aways” and keep any rain off your valuable property.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle. You can check the owner’s manual for the weight limit. But certainly, if the car’s wheels are visibly depressed or the car won’t drive normally due to the weight on top, you need to remove some items and take multiple trips.

Many of these same rules apply to items that are loaded into your truck bed. If you intend to drive on the highway, it is even more important to ensure that all of your items are properly secured due to the higher speed limits.

Hauling Using A Trailer
First of all, when you connect a trailer to your car or truck, you need to make sure like never before that you have a good auto insurance policy and one that includes UMI (un- or under- insured motorist insurance).

The risks associated with pulling a trailer are far greater than with merely driving your vehicle “trailer-less” down the highway.

Here are some safety tips and legal requirements for trailer-towing in Florida:

  • Be sure you don’t violate the Florida size and weight limits for trailer and tow vehicle. Click here for more details.
  • Never go over 65 mph with a trailer behind you, and stay in the slow lane as much as possible.
  • Use safety chains so you won’t lose the trailer if the hitch fails.
  • Be sure the trailer has functioning stop and tail lights, plus functional turn signals. You also need clearance lights and license plate lights (and a license plate on the trailer.)
  • Set tongue weight to 10% to 15% of the total trailer weight to ensure good stability.
  • If your trailer has electric brakes and a battery-operated breakaway switch, check the battery charge before departure.
  • Get out and do a safety inspection and tire pressure check at every stop as you travel. You should also check the load to ensure that nothing has shifted during your trip.

You might also want to call your auto insurance company to ask for additional safety tips and to ensure that your auto insurance coverage will protect you should an incident occur. Feel free to contact Flagler County Insurance Agency for an auto insurance quote or for details of your coverage.