If you are planning a trip this summer with a caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer, don’t set off without first making sure it is roadworthy and loaded correctly.
For a trouble-free journey, follow these tips from IAM RoadSmart and the Caravan & Motorhome Club:
- Be especially careful to check your car and caravan or trailer tyres. They must be inflated to the correct pressure, have at least 1.6mm of tread on them and be free of damage.
- Check that your caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) is in good condition and connected correctly as well. To comply with the law, most caravans and large box-shaped trailers also need extension mirrors to give a good view of the road behind.
- Take care not to overload your caravan or trailer, or it can easily become unstable on the road. Heavy items should be on the floor and over the axle.Place lighter items higher up.
- Review the Highway Code.Did you know it’s illegal to travel in the outside lane of a motorway with three or more lanes?The speed limit for towing is 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways, or 50mph on single carriageways (unless a lower overall limit applies).
- Be especially careful when driving downhill, so that your speed doesn’t creep up and get too high – it’s one of the main reasons why caravans or trailers become unstable. Remember, it takes longer to stop when towing and you must have a big enough gap between you and the vehicle in front to be able to slow down and stop in case of an emergency.
- Towing in high winds needs extra care too.Sometimes it’s wise to change your route.Also beware of overtaking large vehicles that can put you in their ‘bow wave’.This can make caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast dangerously unstable.
“Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating,” Martin Spencer, Technical Manager at the Caravan & Motorhome Club, said. “By getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe.
“In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”
IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy & Research, Neil Greig, added: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead, your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”