Towing allows boaters the opportunity to venture into waters outside of their backyard. No matter what size or type of boat you tow, hauling your vessel down the road presents a few unique challenges. Here are our best safety tips to help you and your boat arrive at your destination safely.

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10 Tips for Safe Trailering

1. Before you hit the road make a full pre-tow safety inspection of your rig. Check to make sure the truck and trailer are properly mated. Remember to look at the light plug and the hitch, ensuring the safety pin and latch are properly in place.

2. You will also want to examine the brake safety cable and the safety cables or chains. Make sure the safety cables or chains are crossed, to support the tongue of the trailer just in case the hitch fails for some reason. Check the bow strap and boat safety chain to make sure they’re also secure.

3. Step aboard the boat, and look around for anything that’s not fully secured. Life jackets, empty coolers, and loose clothing are all items that can blow or bounce out of the boat when trailering.
- If there’s any heavy gear aboard, center it in the boat, as close as possible to directly above the trailer’s axle(s).

4. Tongue weight should be about 10 to 15 percent of your load, otherwise, the trailer may sway. If you detect sway in your rig, don't panic. Slow down immediately, pull over, and adjust your load.

5. Make sure your truck’s load is level and even before and after your departure.

6. Complete a final light check before pulling out onto the road. Be sure brake, running, tail, and blinker lights are all working properly.

7. Take turns as wide as possible to avoid clipping a curb or other obstructions. When multiple turn lanes are available, use the outside lane.

towing a boat

8. Leave extra following room—that extra weight you’re hauling can increase stopping distance significantly.

9. If wind-blast pushes your rig sideways, take your foot off the accelerator but do not step on the brakes, to reduce the effect. Beware of wind on bridges.

10. When you arrive at the boat ramp, walk back to the trailer hubs and feel them. They should be cool to the touch. If they’re hot, your bearings aren’t functioning properly—have them serviced immediately, or you could experience bearing failure while rolling down the road.

11. Don’t remove the winch strap and safety chain until you’ve backed the boat down into the water. Yes, the boat CAN slide off and smash onto the boat ramp, if you remove the strap and chain too early!

12. Tow your boat with a competent tow vehicle. Pay attention to your vehicles towing capacity and abide by it. If you have a truck with advanced towing features, use them, too.

ram 1500 outdoorsman

BONUS TIP! If you're trailering for a fishing trip, remember not to place your rods anywhere on the boat where they could snag passing objects. Powerlines and tree limbs will catch them and cause a potential safety hazard for you and the cars surrounding you. When you're pulling out of the water, ensure that your antenna is folded down, too.

We want all of our fellow boaters to make it out on the water safely. If you're new to boating, check out our guide on how to trailer a boat where we cover all of the basics, from attaching the boat to backing in and launching.