Get Out Of Your Own Backyard – Trailering the Safe Way in Ontario

By Mike Jacobs

Trailer Safety Wrong Way

For the past five years, I’ve made it my mission to ride every paved road, dirt, gravel and snow trail, and have started trying to get even a fraction of Ontario’s 400,000 lakes, rivers and streams crossed off my bucket list.

And although I’m nowhere near completing my mission, and will die with a grin on my face riding until the end, I have seen enough of this province to know that if you think you know Ontario – you need to think again.

Most of us ride right out of our backyard, and are totally unaware of how different life can be just 200-300 kilometers down the road. I’m constantly talking with sportbike riders who tell me that Ontario riding sucks, but haven’t even made it past Forks of the Credit. If they’d only head towards Pembroke, they’d find that there isn’t a straight road to be found in that neck of the woods – and the pavement is generally pretty good.

The same could be said of dirt-biking, quads, boating, and sleds! Most riders seem to stick close to home, then claim that they’ve seen Ontario. Well, I’m here to call b))[$#1t on that and say that you need to get your pickup, get your trailer and saddle the heck up. There’s a whole world spoiling for a ride out there, and you don’t even have to speak a different language to enjoy it.

So, this article is a quick primer for those of you who’ll heed the call, and get your butts down the road. If you’re going two, three or even four hundred kilometers down the road, you need to make sure that you’re safe and legal.

Check this video if you don’t want to waste time reading (This is the internet guys! Who needs to read anymore!) or check the list below the video if you’re old-school like that.

BONUS: I actually talked to a real live OPP officer about trailer safety and I’ve included his knowledge about what situations require you to get annual safety inspections of your truck and or trailer!

If you were too lazy to watch the video, here’s the short list:

1. Any vehicle being trailered needs four anchor points.

2. Tie downs (bungees aren’t really good for much other than covers) should be rated for at least half your vehicle’s weight. This ensures that if two break, you’ll still be covered by the other two.

3. Check all lights and connections before and during your trip. These cheap plastic lenses and bulbs are the only thing that lets other drivers (mainly the 18-wheelers riding two feet behind you) what you’re going to do next. And we all know that trailer wiring is just harvested from recycled 70’s British sportscars.

4. Make sure that your hitch and ball are the same size.

5. Attach and cross-loop your breakaway chains. The reason for having two chains is that if your trailer tongue comes off the hitch, it will land in their cradle. But that only works if you cross-loop them.

6. Don’t overload the trailer. More on this at the end of the article.

7. Cover your load if you’re not using an enclosed trailer.

8. Inspect your load at every stop.

9. Ensure that you load is properly distributed – mainly that the heaviest items are distributed around the axle of the trailer.

10. Having a spare tire is not an option.

Finally, I had a real nice chat with an OPP officer who let me know the simplest way to tell if your vehicle needed an annual safety inspection (AKA the yellow sticker that they put on your windshield)

If your combination of vehicles weighs over 4500lbs, you need one. End of story.

An easy way to be safe is to take the registered gross weight of your truck, and then add the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your truck and if it’s over 4500lbs combined, you need a sticker!

  • If your truck empty weighs over 4500lbs, you need one.
  • If your truck full weighs over 4500lbs, you need one.
  • If your truck empty and trailer empty weighs over 4500lbs, you need one.
  • If your truck empty and your trailer full weights over 4500lbs, you need one.

If your whole rolling mess weighs less than 4500lbs, don’t worry about it!

Finally, if you’re looking for places to ride in Ontario, check our – it has literally every link to every place you can go in this absurdly over-sized province.


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