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Caravans and trailers

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Simple safety checks before you get on the road

Caravan and trailer owners thinking of an Easter trip are being urged to help avoid incidents on Devon and Cornwall’s road network with some simple safety checks.

Highways England and Devon & Cornwall Police say drivers need to check their trailers and caravans thoroughly before going on the roads, especially if they have not been used for some time, even perhaps laid up since last summer.

Towing incidents on the road network can cause considerable delays to other road users, not to mention being potentially dangerous.

Bev Hannah, RegionalRoad Safety Coordinator for Highways England, says some simple checks can help avoid many of the incidents that the agency sees.

Bev says: “Trailers and caravans need to be checked each time they are using the road network in order to make sure that they are roadworthy. Drivers may also want to check their breakdown cover is up to date before setting off.”

A list of simple checks can be found on the Government website:

Key things to also remember are to not overload caravans and trailers and to pay particular attention to tyres as they may need to be replaced if the trailer or caravan has been in storage for some time.

Other causes of incidents include not using a suitable towing vehicle or driving too fast or in any way unsuitable for the road conditions.

Alliance MPC Phil Saundercock from Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Apart from the safety issues mentioned, it is important for drivers to check their driving licence for the correct categories that they can tow. For instance for trailers over 750kg this is denoted by the letters B and E.”

Advice

Read the DVLA guide to towing.

TyreSafe has a guide to checking tyres on vehicles, trailers and caravans coming out of storage.

It’s important to load trailers and caravans evenly – here’s a handy video guide

Top Towing Tips

To avoid dangerous situations like rolling or jackknifing, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Always reduce your normal driving speed when towing.
  • Always obey the posted speed limits.
  • Leave extra time and distance between you and other vehicles when towing so you can stop safely. As a rule of thumb, leave about 4-5 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If swaying or whipping occurs, take your foot off the accelerator pedal. Do not brake or speed up.
  • When passing, know that you will require more space than normal.
  • Use the same gear to go downhill as you would to go uphill as a rule of thumb. This will help you control your speed downhill.
  • Slow down before going downhill.
  • When turning a corner, pull out into the road a little bit before turning and turn wider so the trailer will not hop the curb.
  • When parking, try to park in a place where you can pull forward so you don't have to back into or out of a parking space.
  • When reversing, try placing your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and looking over your shoulder move your hand to the right to make the trailer go right, and to the left to make it go left.
  • If you are reversing, and you start to jackknife, just pull forward to straighten the trailer out and try again.

Speed limits for towing

On a motorway or dual-carriageway where the limit for a car is 70mph, then drive at 60mph to stay the right side of the law while towing.

On a single-carriageway road where a 60mph maximum applies for cars, you should tow at no more than 50mph to stay legal.

When driving on roads with lower speed limits, the maximum for cars towing a caravan is the same as it is for other cars.

More things you need to remember

Right hand lanes of motorways containing three or more lanes must not be used if you are driving any vehicle towing a trailer or caravan.

The loaded trailer must not weigh over 750kg and should not weigh more than 50% of your car’s weight.

Trailers with a braking system: The car and loaded trailer must not weigh over the second weight shown on the car manufacturer’s plates.


Contact

Media Office
Devon & Cornwall Police, Media Office
Police headquarters, Middlemoor
Exeter
Devon
EX2 7HQ

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