' Just wanted to share a rather frightening experience we had on the drive home from the Mississippi rally.
. Perhaps reading about our experiences and choices will offer a cautionary tale, as well as assist anyone who is purchasing an Escape trailer and is considering size and certain options.
An old minivan pulling a large pop-up trailer was trying to pass us on route 80, and created a very dangerous situation which could have caused a terrible accident.
Fortunately, my DH is a very careful and aware driver, and insists on traveling at 60 mph or less, and usually below the posted speed limit. Anyway, he noticed this minivan coming up in our side mirror, and noticed that his trailer was fish-tailing. As this guy passed us, he was accelerating, and at this point was going around 67 - 70 mph. The sway in his trailer became much worse, arcing about 2 feet in either direction as he pulled up alongside us. He was obviously going too fast.
We were terrified that this trailer would hit us. As my DH carefully and gently put the brakes on, we steered halfway on to the shoulder as we decelerated in an effort to get out of his way. At this point, I could see that the other guy's trailer missed our car by mere inches.
My DH fortunately is a very controlled and calm person, kept his wits about him, and expertly got out of the other guy's way . When the van finally passed us, his trailer was in full fishtail, with his van swerving all over both lanes and the shoulder, totally out of control. At one point it looked like he was going to flip the entire rig. He finally managed to pull off the shoulder and onto the grass.
As we passed, I noticed he had a basic, simple hitch. Also, we surmised that his trailer surpassed his van's tow capacity. Excessive speed along with these and other factors all possibly came in to play here.
Lessons learned, at least for us:
We are extremely happy with the hitch we purchased; the full weight distribution anti-sway hitch. Technically, we could have gotten by with less, but we decided to be more cautious. In this situation it certainly prevented sway, instability, and aided in avoiding a terrible accident as we put it to the test.
Second, although we are technically qualified to tow a 21', we decided to keep the trailer weight and size well below our tow capacity. So, we opted for the lighter 19'. We believed this proved important in this situation for control as well.
Third, realizing that we have an extra load behind us, we don't go over 55-60 mph or so on the highways, and gage our speed according to the road, traffic, and conditions.
Finally, spatial awareness and frequent glances into the rearview and side mirrors to observe traffic can be a lifesaver! Good mirrors or a camera are invaluable in this regard. It's not only for observing who's coming up behind us, but also to scout out open areas for a "way out" should a situation like this occur.