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Old 08-24-2014, 01:49 PM   #1
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Emergency collision avoidance - what to expect!

We all hope that an emergency road incident never happens and that we never have to react to one with a sudden collision avoidance manuever. That said, emergencies do occur which require us to brake hard, swerve left or right hard, and so forth, for collision avoidance. The question becomes what should one expect the tow vehicle /trailer to do do when an emergency reactive manuever is required? How will your entire rig react to an emergency stop or hard left/ right manuever? You can't know what you've never experienced but would like to understand the cause and effect relationship between you tow vehicle and trailer when a sudden collision avoidance manuever is required. Does anyone know how you can prepare yourself for that which you've never experienced in order to understand how your rig will react to sudden turns, hard breaking, etc.? Is there any reading material out there that will help prepare for such emergency reactive maneuvers? Any helpful thoughts? Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2014, 02:10 PM   #2
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My short answer would be NO. AND modern vehicles with ABS and traction control and other such Hi-Tech stuff would make any old theory that we have learned obsolete. I often will take the opportunity to "Play" around in a large empty parking lot when snow covered. At moderate speed I will try to put my car into a spin just to see how it will react and respond. I would never, never attempt this with anything in tow. When ABS was first out I took an ABS equipped Ford police LTD out one night and tried it out on an ice covered street. I was impressed that it worked as advertised. At the time the car I was assigned was a non-ABS model. I really think that we are at the mercy of the automotive engineers until such time as we have our own encounters.
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:12 PM   #3
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There is a video on the 'net somewhere that shows the performance of an Airstream vs. that of an SOB trailer when driven through a series of maneuvers on a test track obstacle course. The low Center of Gravity of the Airstream really shines in that comparison.

I've had only one such incident--a panic stop--when a motorcycle wrecked out in front of the school bus that was in front of me. The Airstream performed beautifully and stayed perfectly in line with the truck. It threw some stuff around inside the trailer, but overall no damage.

The best recommendation I can share came from the 1966 Airstream Owner's Manual we got with our trailer (Thanks to PO's that kept all that stuff). It said "The trailer will tow so well you might forget it's there. Never let yourself do that!"

In other words, the best precaution you can take, IMHO, is to always pay attention. Keep your speed moderate, and leave more space between you and other traffic in case you do have to stop or maneuver.

Thanks for starting this thread. It will be interesting to see what forum members have to say.
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:49 PM   #4
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Howard L. View Post
Airstream Performance - YouTube


Sent from my iPad using Airstream Forums
The video is interesting and helpful. The "almost rollover" of the other trailer during the left/right maneuvers is one of the very concerns I have. Over-reaction with collision avoidance is not far away from reaction---a fine line between the two. Clearly, the airstream trailer adds a dimension to what one can and cannot do with emergency maneuvers. The "other" trailer and tow vehicle make this point apparent. It would be nice if similar videos or other information existed on this subject given that towing safety is my primary concern. Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:13 PM   #6
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:24 PM   #7
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Generally an Airstream will slide sideways on its tires without rolling over provided it stays on the road. Other trailers not so much so.

If you are ever around London I can take you for a test drive that will make you feel much more reassured.

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Old 08-24-2014, 08:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sjcjr View Post
Does anyone know how you can prepare yourself for that which you've never experienced in order to understand how your rig will react to sudden turns, hard breaking, etc.? Is there any reading material out there that will help prepare for such emergency reactive maneuvers? Any helpful thoughts? Thanks.
Here's my advice. Every sailor knows that you have to take care of your ship so that in the gravest extreme, the ship will take care of you.

The same is true of your rig. The time to prepare for an emergency maneuver is before you pull out of the driveway. (As others have pointed out above, you have already started out right by buying an Airstream.)

  • Rig designed right to begin with?
  • Enough tow vehicle for the trailer?
  • Right kind of hitch for the combination of trailer and tow vehicle?
    • (Weight distribution, sway control, pivot point projection?)
  • Tow vehicle in good condition?
    • Tires, brakes, steering?
  • Trailer in good condition?
    • Tires, brakes?
  • Configuration as you hit the road?
    • Tow vehicle weight and balance?
    • Trailer weight and balance? (10-20% of trailer weight on the tongue?)
    • Brake controller set for proper trailer braking? (Very important!)
I have had two panic stop situations while towing two different Airstreams. Once a pickup truck pulled out right in front of me. Another time a big bear decided to run across the road in front of me. (You can't believe how fast a bear can run until you've seen it. And I'm sure he was just as panicked as I was!)

In both cases my reaction was pure reflex--I nailed on the brakes.

In both cases the rig stopped like it had hit a wall, going straight ahead, in time to miss the obstacle.

I have heard it said that if the trailer brakes are set right, a pickup truck towing a trailer can stop faster than the truck by itself because the trailer's weight transfer on braking tends to counteract the pickup's weight transfer on braking. I could believe it, because in both of these situations we stopped, pronto.

The trick is to have everything set up right before you need it.
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Old 09-05-2014, 09:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuvite-F View Post
Here's my advice. Every sailor knows that you have to take care of your ship so that in the gravest extreme, the ship will take care of you.

The same is true of your rig. The time to prepare for an emergency maneuver is before you pull out of the driveway. (As others have pointed out above, you have already started out right by buying an Airstream.)

  • Rig designed right to begin with?
  • Enough tow vehicle for the trailer?
  • Right kind of hitch for the combination of trailer and tow vehicle?
    • (Weight distribution, sway control, pivot point projection?)
  • Tow vehicle in good condition?
    • Tires, brakes, steering?
  • Trailer in good condition?
    • Tires, brakes?
  • Configuration as you hit the road?
    • Tow vehicle weight and balance?
    • Trailer weight and balance? (10-20% of trailer weight on the tongue?)
    • Brake controller set for proper trailer braking? (Very important!)
I have had two panic stop situations while towing two different Airstreams. Once a pickup truck pulled out right in front of me. Another time a big bear decided to run across the road in front of me. (You can't believe how fast a bear can run until you've seen it. And I'm sure he was just as panicked as I was!)

In both cases my reaction was pure reflex--I nailed on the brakes.

In both cases the rig stopped like it had hit a wall, going straight ahead, in time to miss the obstacle.

I have heard it said that if the trailer brakes are set right, a pickup truck towing a trailer can stop faster than the truck by itself because the trailer's weight transfer on braking tends to counteract the pickup's weight transfer on braking. I could believe it, because in both of these situations we stopped, pronto.

The trick is to have everything set up right before you need it.
Well stated, my friend, we had a situation in Indianapolis this summer, when 3 lanes of 60mph traffic suddenly stopped in front of us.
I knew my brakes on the trailer and my Dodge were good, but I had no idea how good.
I was on the truck brakes hard enough that the anti - lock system kicked in n and the Airstream brakes locked up.
Pucker factor of 12 on a 10 scale!
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Old 09-05-2014, 10:28 PM   #10
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Two words ...S-L-O-W D-O-W-N ...

much easier to avoid at slower speeds!
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:10 PM   #11
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Rule #1- don't hit anything
Rule #2- when you hit something, hit it as SOFTLY as possible.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:35 PM   #12
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What Nuvite F said - plus lower speed and vigilance.

Also one area you can and should "mess with" is the gain on your brake controller. Every time you drive there is a small amount of wear on your brakes, ditto on the Airstream's when you tow. The connection isn't "set it and forget it." On a gravel road, when you hit the brakes, you want the trailer's tires to stop just a bit sooner and a bit harder than the tow vehicle. If you have to slam on the brakes on the road, the trailer will stay straight AND act as an anchor slowing the tow vehicle and helping keep it straight. Trying to out steer an accident can cause a jackknife even with the brake controller adjusted correctly. If you're braking hard coming down from 70mph you're screwed... from 55 you might still hit an obstacle in the road... but with luck you'll hit it at 5 mph. It's crappy to be in an accident, but the tow vehicle would be less damaged than the Airstream. If the Airstream's brakes aren't just a little grabby the the Airstream will definitely bump the ball and perhaps jump OFF the ball, or bend or break the tongue.
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Old 09-06-2014, 01:24 PM   #13
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In my first year of towing, I came off the highway onto a very tight exit ramp faster than I should have done and realized that I was going to have to lose some speed very quickly or risk getting into trouble on the adverse camber. My trailer brakes had been set quite "grabby" and, as I hit the brake pedal firmly, I was amazed at how quickly both trailer and tow vehicle lost momentum; there was a definite feel of the trailer almost pulling me back. It was a good lesson learned, not just to get the speed down when leaving the highway, but also that well adjusted trailer brakes are vital.
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mefly2 View Post
Two words ...S-L-O-W D-O-W-N ...

much easier to avoid at slower speeds!
There are times that keeping up with traffic is the safest technique. My Indianapolis experience was one of those situations..I had nowhere to go my only choice was to stop, and stop very quickly.
It's easy for some one to say S-L-O-W D-O-W-N, when that someone wasn't there to see what really happened.
Larry
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