Christmas and New Year may be well past us now, but summer's still here, and with a few long weekends still to come, many of us will be planning to hit the road with boats, caravans or jet skis in tow. If you are planning on heading out of town this summer, remember that one abrupt movement in a heavily loaded vehicle can throw your trailer into all sorts of trouble.

Thankfully, car manufacturers have developed smart technology to help get you out of a tricky situation and make towing safer than ever before. Here are two towing safety features that are designed to do just that:

Trailer Stability Assist (TSA)

(Also known as Electronic Trailer Sway Control)

What does it do?

  • Designed to control individual wheel slip to correct potential fishtailing before there is an accident.
  • A trailer swerving from side to side can quickly upset the car and trailer combination. TSA systems determine when a trailer is starting to sway dangerously and corrects the situation before it becomes uncontrollable.
  • The system automatically warns drivers behind the vehicle by flashing a brake light on both the car and trailer.

How does it work?

  • TSA is achieved through a blend of either reducing torque to individual wheels or by actually braking individual wheels to bring the trailer and tow-vehicle back under control.

How does it differ to Electronic Stability Control (ESC)?

  • TSA is programmed differently and is designed to detect yaw (to move from side to side) in the tow-vehicle and take specific corrective actions to eliminate trailer sway.
  • Most ESC systems are not designed to detect such movement, nor take the correct actions to control both the trailer and tow-vehicle; so not all ESC equipped vehicles have TSA capabilities.

Active Rollover Protection (ARP)

What does it do?

  • ARP is a system that recognises impending rollover and selectively applies brakes to resist roll over.
  • The ARP employs systems that are already fitted in vehicles such as Electronic Stability Control, Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), traction and yaw control.

How does it work?

  • ARP detects excessive lateral forces.
  • It uses an active differential to transfer torque to the wheels that have the best grip on the road.
  • This situation typically appears when a vehicle driven at speed performs a rapid turn. When ARP detects a possible rollover it responds by quickly activating the appropriate brake in efforts to counteract a roll by way of the ABS system. In efforts to mitigate the chance of a roll, the on-board computer uses data from an inertia measuring system to determine when a vehicle is about to have a rollover scenario. 
  • Rollovers can occur when the vehicle is either in motion or stationary. When the computer determines that the vehicle is at risk of rolling, it calculates the direction of roll and on some systems triggers the active suspension system. The force produced in the suspension reacts to oppose the roll, and keeps the vehicle safe.

Both of these features are there to help reduce the likelihood of an accident. You shouldn’t expect these systems to prevent an accident if you’re driving at excessive speed, not driving sensibly, or if you’re out in extreme road and/or weather conditions.

Keeping to the speed limit and towing sensibly are the best safety practices, even if your vehicle is crammed with a multitude of fantastic safety assist features.

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