Keep summer towing safe with 6-point check list

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Summer is towing season for many of Americans. Boats, RVs, campers and moving trailers can be seen heading down the highway. But if not done safely, mistakes can be costly.

Russ Clark, who lives happily lakeside says, despite trucks that make it easier to tow than ever, you have to run down a list in order to get from the house to the campground safely. He's seen terrible highway accidents because of lack of towing prep.

"I would say the main concern out there are tires," Clark says.

It's one of six things you should check off before towing and traveling.

"Loading a boat on a trailer is easy enough, but there are a lot of other precautions. Tires blow out on highways. If you don't properly inflate them – if you don't have tires in a certain range – they're very, very dangerous," he said.

One thing most people don't understand is that manufacturers' recommend you get a feel for the automobile before you head out pulling thousands of pounds.

"It's important that you have at least 1,000 miles on the car before you tow anything. You want to break in the car," Judith Fouts, a spokesperson for Ford and its popular F1-50 model, said

Number three, balance the load you're pulling. Sixty percent of the weight, Fouts said, should be toward the front of the trailer, 40 percent on the back end, and all of kept low to the center of gravity.   

And that takes us to tip number four. Pull over at 50 miles and make sure nothing has shifted. Make sure that luggage in the camper is right where you left it.

Next, drivers need to remember that they are towing a load and watch that breaking and merging. Russ Clark knows a newbie on the road when he sees one.

"They're driving the truck as if it's their car. They're not realizing they have 5 or 6,000 miles behind them, that truck weighs 6,000 and now you're on someone's bumper. It won't stop the same as if it's unloaded," said the Lake Lanier homeowner.

And finally, sixth on the checklist so that you can safely tow your college kid's things to that apartment this fall is to downshift.

"You can downshift into a lower gear which will help you slow down the vehicle, and it'll help you when your ascending. It'll give you more power," Fouts pointed out.

Then you can focus on the family fun you plan to have down the road. But one last footnote: When you're towing something open like a boat, make sure everything is tied down. The koozies. The pool noodles. All of it.