In a time of overcrowded roads, roadworks and traffic jams, drivers today need to have all their wits about them and be continually aware of what is happening all around the vehicle.
While it is true that there are plenty more hazards for drivers on our roads today than 50 or 60 years ago, the job of driving becomes much more difficult when a towed vehicle is added into the equation.
So, here are top tips for staying safe on the roads while towing a caravan:
Keep to the speed limit - speed limits differ depending on the road you are travelling, so do keep an eye out for speed limit signs. Generally speaking, for towing vehicles, built up areas have a maximum speed limit of 30mph, single carriageways 50mph, dual carriageways 60mph and motorways 60mph.
Plan ahead - if you are closing in on slow-moving traffic, reduce your speed gently; instead of braking heavily at the last minute.
Motorway rules - when towing you are allowed to use the outside lane of a two-lane motorway for overtaking, however, you risk a heavy fine if you are caught in the outside lane of a three-lane motorway.
Joining the motorway - it is good practice to accelerate to a speed that matches the traffic in the nearside lane. Attempt to join the main carriageway as soon as you can (i.e., don’t run out of slip road), pick a suitable gap, and adjust your speed accordingly in order to merge with the flow of traffic safely and smoothly.
Correct lane positioning - to lessen the ‘bow wave effect’ and any possible instability that this can cause, move over to the left as far as you can if you are being overtaken by another vehicle. Similarly when overtaking, move as far to the right as you are able.
Overtaking - check, and double check, all your mirrors well in advance of making a move, and don’t leave overtaking until the last minute. Ensure that you have completely cleared the traffic before returning to the nearside lane.
Ascending and descending a long slope - try to maintain a constant speed (this may mean selecting a lower gear). Look well ahead and be mindful of other vehicles around you that may suddenly pull out. Give yourself plenty of time to react if you need to and keep checking your mirrors. Also, be mindful that vehicles may move much slower when ascending a hill, but will speed up on the descent. Our advice is to hang back a little to avoid any unnecessary overtaking manoeuvres.
Lorries - it is advisable to always expect the unexpected. This means being aware that lorries may lose sight of you if you are alongside them - this is particularly true for left-hand drive vehicles. If you need to overtake a lorry, remember that the driver might not see you; try to carry out the manoeuvre as quickly as you can, keeping one hand on the horn just in case!
Roadworks - remember that the lanes through roadworks are often narrow and have uneven surfaces. Take extra care and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front in case you need to brake suddenly. If possible, plan your route so that you avoid roadworks altogether.
Exiting the motorway - the best way to exit a motorway is to plan ahead a few miles in advance of the junction. If there is a line of slow traffic ahead, consider slowing down and remaining in the inside lane to avoid the need to find a slot to move into at the last moment. So, if you follow our road safety towing advice, you can be sure that towing your caravan will be an enjoyable, and safe, part of your caravanning trip.