Winter Driving Tips for RVs and Trailers

December 19, 2012

Driving an RV in the snow can seem scaryEven if winter driving conditions aren’t here yet, they’re just around the corner. Driving in the winter can be tricky, but it's even more difficult when pulling a trailer or driving an RV. Here are a few tips for safe driving in the winter.

Choose the right tires for your vehicle. The first thing you have to worry about when pulling a trailer are the tires on your own vehicle. If your truck is going to lose control, anything it’s pulling is going to lose control as well. So before pulling anything in winter conditions, have the appropriate seasonal tires on, or chains. If you’re driving an RV, the same applies. Tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touch the road, so quality is more important than economy. After making sure the towing vehicle is outfitted, you can also put snow tires on your trailer.

Allow extra stopping time. Even if the road doesn’t seem slick, allow extra distance when stopping, and when slowing for turns. As your vehicle’s weight is transferred downward and forward while slowing, that can cause you to slide. So if you expect to slide when stopping, you can allow yourself extra room. Sliding into the back of a car or through an intersection is the last thing you want to do.

Don’t panic. If you do begin to slide, don’t panic. Freaking out and stomping the brake or jerking the wheel will only make things worse. If you’re sliding, remember that you’re already slowing down. Lightly pump the brake and gently point the tires where you want to travel. When you regain tire traction you’ll be going in the direction you want to go. If you turn the wheel hard while pulling a trailer you run the risk of the trailer’s weight maintaining your slide and pushing you in a direction you don’t want to go, or jackknifing.

Use your judgement. Drive slowly and patiently. Speeding and making abrupt decisions like sudden lane changes puts you at extra risk. If conditions seem terrible, have the wisdom to take a break, even if that means staying in a hotel that you didn’t plan on. Even that is better than getting towed out of a ditch, or worse.