Some people are choosing to holiday at home this year to make the most of the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics. Many people will be touring the countryside in a caravan or motorhome. This is an excellent way to see the country but if this is the first time you’ve towed a caravan, it’s worth taking some time to look at this short guide to towing caravans. Even if you’re an experienced hand, it’s still worth a quick glance to refresh your memory.
First, check that you have the right driving licence. There are slightly different rules which depend on when you passed your test. But broadly speaking, anyone with a normal driving licence can tow a trailer weighing as much as 750kg. Next, look on the vehicle identification plate and check what the recommended train weight is for your car. If there is no train weight listed, your car is not suitable for towing.
It goes without saying, but your car must be in good working order, particularly your brakes, so get them checked before you go. If your caravan also has brakes fitted, then get them checked too. If you haven’t got recovery insurance, it’s worth getting some before you go because it’s no fun getting a caravan home from the other end of the country if you break down or have an accident.
Work out whether you need towing mirrors. If your caravan is broader than your car, you need them. If you’re in any doubt, fit them. Not having them is a safety risk, but you also risk a fine or prosecution. You don’t want to part company with your caravan on a busy motorway, so make sure you get a proper towing bar. It’s best to get one that is approved for your car model and also meets EU regulations.
Practice driving with your caravan before you go, ideally when the roads are quieter. Bear in mind that the extra weight and length mean that you’ll take longer to accelerate and slow down and cornering will be much trickier. This means that you need to leave extra time for braking and for pulling out into traffic. Finally, learn the speed limits for towing. On motorways and dual carriageways, you can only go at 60mph and you’re not allowed in the fast lane.