Many people are put off caravan holidays by the thought of towing the caravan itself! Get it wrong and you could jack-knife, snake or overturn. But with a bit of preparation and careful driving you should be able to get your caravan to your destination without incident.
At Adrian Flux Insurance Services they are used to listening to tales of caravan misery when people ring in to make insurance claims after towing mishaps. They’ve even heard of those who plan their whole route so that they don’t have to make any right hand turns!
To make it easier for prospective caravaneers Flux has put together these five top tips for safe caravan towing.
- Check you are legally entitled to tow your vehicle. If you passed your driving test on or after January 1, 1997 you may be breaking the law when you tow your caravan. It’s all about weight of trailer and towing vehicle. Get it wrong and you could face nine points on your license. Visit the relevant page on the government website DirectGov for the details.
- Incorrect loading of the caravan is the cause of many accidents. Try to put heavy items over the axle and fasten items so they don’t shift about as you drive. Aim to put the lighter things in the caravan and heavier ones in the car if there is room. www.caravan-advice.co.uk is the place to get further help on loading caravans.
- Remember your extra length for maneuvering. The Camping and Caravanning Club runs manoeuvering courses to help first time caravanners feel confident on the road.
- Before you set out run a full service check. Caravan brakes and linkages can cause major problems if they cease up or snap. If in doubt consult an expert and book an appointment at a local dealer. Go Caravanning has produced a useful service checklist.
- When you hitch up, double check everything and make sure the car and caravan sit level on the road. At this stage you may well have to make adjustments but it is worth taking the time to get it all correct. Follow the advice from The National Caravan Council.
The number of people taking to the road in caravans has increased by 25 per cent in recent years, according to figures released by the Caravan Club. So for those of you planning on a road trip with your caravan for the first time, specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux has come up with 10 essential tips to make sure your journey runs smoothly.
10 tips for first-time caravanners:
- Get the basics right: make sure you have the correct licence for towing your caravan (check direct.gov.uk for details) and make sure you know the maximum speed limits for driving while towing a caravan – for example, the maximum speed limit on a dual carriageway is 60mph and 50mph on single carriageways.
- Ensure that you’re in full control of your caravan by practicing potentially tricky manoeuvres such as parking and reversing before you set out onyour first journey. Extension towing mirrors on your car will allow you to have a clear view down both sides of your caravan and make sure that all lights and indicators are working on both the caravan and your car.
- Never leave home without a caravan first aid kit: WD40, Milton fluid, a reliable torch, spare fuses, adjustable spanner, two screwdrivers, a set of battery leads and a strong tow-rope. You’ll have all the equipment you need to deal with a crisis – or to allow you to be a Good Samaritan to someone else in trouble.
- Face facts: caravans are often unpopular with fellow road-users, so don’t compound the situation with poor or selfish driving. Plan your route carefully, carry a road map in addition to your sat nav, avoid dawdling and if a queue builds up behind you on a single lane road, pull over when it’s safe to do so and let faster vehicles pass. Unless it’s vital, try to avoid travelling during the morning or evening rush hours.
- Remember when you are planning to overtake in your caravan that you will need to travel for further than normal to pass a vehicle, so allow plenty of time and space to do so. Similarly, bear in the mind the size of your caravan when approaching low bridges or using car parks.
- If you find your caravan swaying from side to side as you drive, don’t panic, simply reduce your acceleration and slightly loosen your grip on the steering wheel until you regain control.
- Don’t be too adventurous on your first trip: choose a location close to home so that you can allow yourself more time for the all-important unhitching and setting up.
- On that note, don’t be frightened of your caravan. Everyone was a novice caravanner at some point and even experienced travellers may take several attempts to reverse their caravan into their pitch. You’ll find that most fellow caravanners are happy to help if you need a hand and are full of useful tips.
- Give yourself peace of mind by making sure your caravan has the right insurance policy to suit you and your needs. Caravans cost a lot to replace and insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive. Call specialist broker Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit adrianflux.co.uk for the best quotes on the market.
- Relax: you’ve bought a caravan to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life, not add to them!