Tow Your Boat Safely!

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Much is written for anglers on what to do to catch fish when they reach the water. We’ve certainly added our share to that library of information over the years.

But little is written on a topic that can literally wreck a fishing trip before it begins.

“Towing Troubles: Danger on America’s Road,” a two-year study released in 2006, noted that towing problems led to more than 400 deaths and nearly 30,000 injuries in 2004, the latest year examined.

The main reason: many motorists lack knowledge or the proper equipment to safely tow boats and other equipment. The trend: accidents related to towing are becoming more common, as more people invest in boats and trailers.

Though the online survey focused on people who tow boats, travel trailers and the like, only one-third felt they were ‘very’ knowledgeable about proper towing practices and safety. The vast majority of those surveyed (71 percent) admitted to being only ‘somewhat’ to ‘not’ knowledgeable. And, incredibly, about one-third said they had no knowledge on the topic at all.

“Too many people are inexperienced with towing, shifting loads and the knowledge you need,” said Dan Williams, truck field manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA, based in Chicago. “You run into safety issues with that.”

The research revealed many people don’t know even the most basic information. For example, more than half did not know or were unsure of their trailer’s gross weight, which is critical to know what kind of vehicle and hitch you need. More than half the people questioned didn’t know or were unsure of the class of hitch already on their vehicle, a rating which determines how much weight can be towed without problems.

Only one in 10 were given towing information from their boat or trailer dealer. In some cases, the fault rested with the drivers themselves. Less than one in four bothered to open the owner’s manual for directions. Three out of four said they learned by trial-and-error, a dangerous classroom at best.

Ignorance, it would seem in many cases, is allowed to rule the day. Nearly two-thirds said they didn’t think they needed more information on safe towing procedures. More specifically, only one in 10 cared to know more about weight distribution. One in 20 wanted to know more about leveling a trailer, a key safety issue, because an improperly-leveled trailer can lead to fishtailing and loss of control.

Williams said Toyota hopes potential customers research what they need before arriving at a dealership. When they don’t, Toyota sales representatives are prepared to walk people through the selection process so they wind up with the vehicle they need. In Toyota’s case, that’s the new, full-sized Tundra.

Apparently, the company is doing it right. Toyota claimed the status of number one in vehicle sales worldwide earlier this year. To meet growing demand for Tundras, a second truck plant was opened recently in San Antonio, Texas. That adds to the plant in Princeton, Ind., where Tundras – the most “American-built

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