Towing tips

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by GEM Motoring Assist

Helpful advice to ensure your caravan or trailer is safe on the road

 

Introduction
GEM Motoring Assist is a great supporter of caravanning. We hope these tips will help you get the most from your pastime. Additionally, of course, if you are towing any other kind of trailer, we trust the information will be useful.

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How will I know if my car is suitable for towing?
We deal with this question in our general introduction to caravanning.

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Does my licence allow me to tow a caravan or trailer?
Check your licence details HERE to determine whether you might need to pass a separate test.

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Practise before you go
If you are towing for the first time then all the safety organisations recommend that you practise your coupling and uncoupling manoeuvres with a trailer before setting off.

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Speed limits
The maximum speed that a car with a trailer etc. can be driven 60mph on UK motorways and dual carriageways and 50mph other types of roads (providing no lower speed limit is in force), and that the gross weight of the trailer and vehicle is less than 7.5 tonnes. Maximum speeds vary across Europe.
Remember, while towing, you are not allowed to use the right-hand lane of a three lane carriageway.

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Size of trailer
The overall length of the trailer, caravan etc. must not exceed 7m, excluding A-frame and hitch (regs 7 & 8 of Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations – 1986). The maximum width of the trailer should not exceed 2.3 m.

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Weight limits
The maximum gross (fully laden) weight of an unbraked trailer is 750kg, or half the kerb weight of the vehicle – whichever is less. The gross weight of a braked trailer should generally not exceed 85% of the tow car’s kerb weight. Refer to your tow car manufacturer’s manual for the kerb weight.

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Tyres
Your tyres must be capable of carrying the maximum laden weight of the caravan at the maximum speed limit. As speed limits vary, it is important to make frequent checks on your tyre pressures.

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Trailer lighting
All trailers on the road during darkness must have the following;

  • Direction indicators
  • Number plate light
  • Two red side lights at the rear
  • Brake lights
  • At least one rear fog light (if the trailer is more than 1.3m wide)
  • Two red triangular reflectors

Passengers

The carriage of passengers in a caravan or trailer is illegal. It is not prohibited to carry animals in caravans, but no road safety organization would recommend that you consider it.

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Top 10 towing safety tips
1. When towing, you are restricted to a maximum speed of 50mph on single carriageway roads, and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways, provided no lower limit is in force.
2. Consider fitting extended door mirrors. These will help visibility along both sides of your vehicle and trailer.
3. Your car plus caravan will take longer to stop, accelerate and turn than a vehicle on its own. Remember to allow for the extra length and width of your vehicle and trailer when taking corners or manoeuvring in a confined space.
4. Check your load in the caravan or trailer is secure and can’t move. It is always good policy to recheck your load after a few miles to confirm everything is secured properly.
5. Try to have someone on hand to help you when you’re reversing – just to check what’s happening and to identify any problems as early as possible.
6. When reversing into a space, turn the steering wheel the opposite way to normal to start the trailer turning, then – and this is key – slacken off and turn the normal way to enable the car to follow the trailer. If things go wrong, be ready to stop, drive forward and start the reversing process over again.
7. Do your nerves a favour by practising a lot before you go out on the open road!
8. Avoid snaking by ensuring even loading and correct nose weight. Watch out, though, for strong side winds or the slipstream from passing lorries.
9. Consider a stabiliser. These reduce snaking by increasing the turning friction between towing vehicle and trailer.
10. Time and space – don’t do anything too quickly, and don’t be too ambitious about manoeuvring until you’ve had some practice.

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Courses
Towing courses are offered by a number of organisations, including the Caravan Club, the Land Rover Experience, the IAM, Towsafe UK and the Camping and Caravnning Club.

DISCLAIMER
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.

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