Avoided a terrible accident - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-03-2016, 01:20 PM   #1
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Avoided a terrible accident

' 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.
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Old 10-03-2016, 01:27 PM   #2
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Excellent post. Glad you drive defensively and were OK.
I think all of us have witnessed the big stickes/toy haulers going by at 90+ and the countless towing questions about towing these trailers with marginal vehicles. We've even had some questions about towing Scamps with motorcycles believe it or not. All you can do is say I don't recommend it, but as you witnessed it's still gonna happen. You and your DH have the right approach to trailering and it will serve you well.
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Old 10-03-2016, 01:35 PM   #3
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Thank you, Greg.
I hope this does help someone, especially a newbie (like me). I see many forum posters asking about tow vehicles. It does concern me when someone has a V6 with a 5000 lb tow capacity talk about getting a 21'. But, perhaps I'm just being overly cautious.
Honestly, I don't know if I could have handled that situation as well as my DH...
I definitely plan on finding an empty parking lot somewhere, and will practice!
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Old 10-03-2016, 02:48 PM   #4
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Glad it turned out well for you! Good defensive driving and way to stay aware! Having to watch for the "other guy" decreases your chances of being involved in a wreck!

I'm sure there were a few choice words for him....between the two of you!
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Old 10-03-2016, 02:55 PM   #5
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Holy Cow, Addie! Glad both of you are okay. As well as that other driver. When we headed up to ETI recently we saw a truck with a trailer that was fishtailing and he pulled over as well. But he wasn't driving as badly as what you encountered. Holy Cow!

I would have had to change my shorts, so to speak, afterwards.

Yeah, there is something to be said for driving slower and getting somewhere safely, isn't there?
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NW Cat Owner View Post
I would have had to change my shorts, so to speak, afterwards.
Do you know where you're going to store all those extra shorts in that 21 yet, Laura?
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Do you know where you're going to store all those extra shorts in that 21 yet, Laura?


Yeah, in a cabinet.
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Old 10-03-2016, 05:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing your experience hopefully that should be a wake up call for the owner of the mini van.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artlady View Post
... It does concern me when someone has a V6 with a 5000 lb tow capacity talk about getting a 21'...
There are a number of owners on this forum who are successfully and safely towing an Escape 21' with a 5000 lb tow capacity V6. That is not the real issue here. The problems with trailer sway as described by the OP are usually related to improper load distribution on a trailer rather than tow capacity of the tug.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:23 PM   #10
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Glad you made it home safely and hopefully you will continue to venture out camping regardless of some of those who tow carelessly.
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