SnowU For Trailer Towing
Special winter towing course teaches drivers how to keep their trailer in line driving on ice and snow
By Larry D. Walton
Other contractors in my area take the same approach that I do to towing on ice: try to avoid it.
But there are times when leaving the trailer at the shop is both impractical and bad for business, especially if your winter work involves snow removal.
Snow removal is an important part of many contractors’ annual business cycle, providing income, keeping the crew in town, and helping area businesses keep their driveways and parking lots accessible to the snow sports enthusiasts that come to town.
A fact not lost to us when most of the dirt movers we met during a trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, are snow movers in the winter.
There, like any other place that is white in the winter, compact loaders, side-by-sides, and other equipment on trailers are a common sight on these ice-covered roads.
Seeing these guys towing their equipment in the dead of winter inspired me to take a day of “snow tow” training at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School (BWDS) just outside of town so I could be better equipped to handle trailer towing on ice-covered roads.
The school is run by The Center for Driving Sciences – a team of driving professionals working together to create on-road and performance solutions for drivers, manufacturers, and government entities.
SNOW DRIVING SCHOOL
Most of the winter driving tips and techniques I’ve learned on previous winter training classes at BWDS apply:
- make sure the vehicle is in good working order;
- use snow tires; slow down;
- and do all your braking and accelerating in a straight line.
But the standard BWDS driving classes don’t teach one important topic: What to do during a “trailer event.”
That’s where the snow-tow trailer towing class (Corporate Program – Sixth Gear) pays big benefits to a contractor.
I found this out the first time my instructor purposefully jackknifed the trailer behind the school’s specially-equipped F-250 4×4 as we approached a 90-degree downhill right-hander on the trailering road course.
Instinctively, I went for a counter steer born of racing on mud tracks. Wrong. My corrective steering action only served to fold the pickup-trailer combination even further.
TOWING IN SNOW
Once I had the trailer back inline and the truck stopped, my instructor walked me through the correct response to such a trailer event: Accelerate to get the trailer back in line and then brake to regain control.
He also pointed out getting around corners with a trailer in icy conditions is best done by “boxing off” or “V-ing off” the corners.
In other words, brake in a straight line before entering the corner, get all of the steering done at once while the trailer is responding, then accelerate out of the corner in a straight line.
We spent several hours going around the course again and again while he locked the trailer’s brakes and I practiced the cornering and recovery techniques.
It wasn’t long before I could keep the trailer under control no matter how hard he tried to make it jackknife. I passed.
The beauty of training on an ice track is an opportunity to practice regaining control of the pickup/trailer combination under safe, controlled conditions with a driving expert in the passenger’s seat.
So when winter puts the icing on your work route, think about spending a day or two in the Snow Tow class at Bridgestone’s Winter Driving School (winterdrive.com; 800-WHY-SKID). It will pay big dividends.