Safe Loading of a Trailer

Pleasant Square Volunteer Fire Company responds to a wide variety of emergencies that can be prevented. Of these are motor vehicle accidents, so below we will cover best practices for safely loading trailers.

Enclosed Cargo Trailers

How you load your trailer and distribute the weight of your cargo will depend on the type of trailer you own and what type of cargo you are going to tow. For example, an enclosed cargo trailer should be loaded with 60% of the cargo weight in the front half of the trailer, with the heaviest items loaded in the front. Lighter items should be placed near the top and in the rear of the trailer. Your cargo should be packed closely and firmly, and tied down to secure it.

Open Trailers

Similarly, open trailers should be loaded heavier in the front of the box – up to 60% of the cargo weight. You should load it in the same manner as an enclosed cargo trailer, but small items should not be loaded above the height of the sides of the trailer box. Use tie-downs to secure cargo.

Loading a Motorcycle

If you are towing a motorcycle, start by walking or riding your motorcycle up the ramp. The front tire should be positioned in the wheel chock, or against the front wall if your trailer doesn’t have a wheel chock. Motorcycles should always be loaded facing forward. To secure your motorcycle, use four 1,200 lb. rated cam-buckle or ratchet-type tie-down straps with two in front and two in the rear. They should be attached from each side of the handlebars or shock towers to the lower front D-rings inside your trailer and tightened evenly with shocks compressed about halfway. Tie-down straps should also be attached from each side to the rear of the motorcycle frame or wheel to the lower center or rear D-rings inside your trailer. Tighten them to prevent the rear of your motorcycle from moving.

Knowing the best way to load your trailer is not only important for protecting your cargo, but also avoiding trailer sway and other issues that could create unsafe towing situations that could put you and others on the road in harm’s way. As always, consult your owner’s manual for for loading instructions specific to your trailer and remember not to overload beyond the weight cpacity.