Before you begin on your long drive this holiday season, make sure you go through this winter towing safety checklist. Snowy trips are relaxing and scenic until disaster strikes and a lovely cruise turns into a dangerous situation. Icy roads, strong winds, and heavy snow can make driving a large vehicle difficult and unsafe. Reduce your risk of an accident by considering these tips:

If you don’t have to, don’t

Keep off icy roads if possible. Treacherous winter weather is not fun to drive in and should be avoided at all costs. It can be especially difficult trying to control a large load in slippery conditions.

Learn your vehicle’s capacity

Compare the towing capacity to the combined weight of your cargo, passengers, and trailer to be sure the weight of everything is under the limit. You can find this in the owner’s manual or contact the dealer or manufacturer if you cannot find the manual. There may even be instructions and tips specific to your model.

Get a seasonal check

Make sure your trailer is up-to-date with its maintenance checks by having a professional assess it. You can feel assured your trailer will not break down and that your passengers will be safe.

Get snow tires or chains

These will keep your cargo stable and keep you safe. All-season tires begin to lose their grip at 7C so even if your route does not get much snow it is still best to invest in a set.

Check the battery

Cold weather is a battery’s enemy by making its ability to remain charged more difficult. Consider replacing it if your battery is more than a few years old.

Clear off snow from the top of the trailer

It may seem inconvenient, but you should use a small ladder or step stool to clear off the top of the trailer. This will ensure the snow does not blow onto other drivers and cause them to lose visibility.

Plan out stops

Weather can be unpredictable in the colder months. Plan ahead and map out stops along your route. If the weather gets even worse, pull over as soon as it is safe to and wait it out.

Have an emergency kit

You should have a roadside kit for emergencies at all times of the year. Pack it with water, flares, a first-aid kit, blanket, gloves, hat, and snacks. Also, remember to store your ice scraper in an easy to reach area in case your trunk is frozen shut. Bring tire traction mats in case you get stuck in slush.

Become familiar with the brake controller’s override

The brake controller in your trailer as a manual override in the form of a squeeze bar, button, or slide. It will allow you to hit the brakes of the trailer directly, bypassing the tow vehicle’s braking system. If you begin to skid or slide on slippery roads, hitting this override can pull you out of it.

Drive slow and give yourself space

This should always be practiced but even more so when roads are slippery. If you brake hard, your rig could skid or jackknife easily. Your load could also easily take out other small vehicles.