Safety tips for towing a caravan or trailer

The weather is warming up and there's another bank holiday just around the corner. If you're making plans to get your caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer out for the first time this year, make sure you're ready to hit the road with these tips from IAM RoadSmart and the Caravan and Motorhome Club...

1. Check the tyres on your car and caravan or trailer to make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and are free from damage.

2. Ensure the caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) is in good condition and connected correctly.

3. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer, fit extension mirrors to give a good view behind you.

4. Take care not to overload your caravan or trailer as this can increase the risk of instability, and mean you're breaking the law. Position heavy items correctly over the axle, low to the floor, with lighter items higher up.

5. When towing, your maximum permitted speed is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is in force. Remember that you're not allowed to travel in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes.

6. Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches to make sure your speed doesn't creep up too high -- this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Also make sure you leave plenty of room to slow down and stop.

7. On very windy days, towing needs additional care and you should consider a change of route. And when towing a caravan, take care if you overtake any large vehicles as this can place you in their "bow wave", causing instability.

"Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn't need to be intimidating," said Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club. "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."

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