Trailer Braking Safety: How To Brake Without Having An Accident

When you are hauling a rental trailer for the first time, you may have to overcome a learning curve as you discover how to drive your trailer. One particular challenge is braking properly to avoid damaging your trailer and vehicle. While you may intend to brake as gradually as possible, unexpected events can place you in danger.

Test The Brakes

Shortly after beginning your trip, you will want to test your trailer brakes by sliding the brake control lever. If the brakes are working properly, you should feel the trailer brakes actuate. Hold the brakes partway for a few seconds and pull over. Then, use an IR thermometer to make sure the brakes are heating correctly.

Brake Properly Based On Your Type Of Brake

How the braking of a trailer feels can depend on the type of brakes found on your trailer. Electric brake controllers initiate when a light amount of pressure is applied to brakes. The electric brakes are designed to gradually increase the tension until the trailer can be brought to a halt. This allows you to avoid locking up trailer wheels. These features are useful as long as you give yourself time to slow down and come to a complete stop. However, hydraulic brakes are better if you have to stop suddenly. With electric brakes, you might not be able to stop fast enough to avoid an accident.

Drive In A Manner That Reduces Braking

Given the challenges of braking, it is best to avoid situations where you have to brake suddenly in the first place. Always drive the speed limit and try to avoid roads that force you to drive fast. In addition to making it more challenging to brake, faster speeds will place more wear and tear on your trailer. Try to maintain enough distance between yourself and the vehicles in front of you so you can always brake fast enough. Avoid applying the trailer brakes except to reduce trailer sway. If your trailer continues to sway, you may need to reload it or consider getting a different trailer.  

Practice gradually reducing your speed when you come to a stop. If possible, try to drive in your own lane. Beware that a careless motorist may try to change lanes in front of you, so be prepared to gradually slow down if this occurs. You may feel nervous at first, but with practice, you will be able to drive your trailer rental safely.