Towing advice from the Highways Agency

WITH the summer holiday period upon us the Highways Agency is advising anyone towing a caravan, boat or horse box to take some simple steps to ensure a trouble-free journey.

WITH the summer holiday period upon us the Highways Agency is advising anyone towing a caravan, boat or horse box to take some simple steps to ensure a trouble-free journey.

Although most drivers are very responsible, incidents involving towed vehicles can cause disproportionately long delays for other road users as well as distress for their drivers and those directly involved.

The causes of towing incidents include overloading the caravan or trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, tyres which have burst because they have not been checked or replaced with sufficient frequency and poor towing technique from drivers, such as excessive speed.

Regional operations manager, Jon Caldwell, said: “At this time of the year we see a significant increase in the number of caravans and other towed vehicles on our roads.


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“In Essex, the M25 M11and A12 experience a particularly high density of towed vehicles.

“While the majority of towed vehicles travel safely, recent incidents provide a timely reminder to anyone towing a trailer, boat, caravan or horse box this summer to prepare before they set out. Incidents involving towing vehicles can take quite some time to sort out, causing considerable delays.

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“Drivers should check their tyres, make sure that caravans and trailers are not overloaded and drive carefully and considerately at this busy time of the year.”

The Highways Agency already works closely with organisations like the police, The Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club to raise awareness of safer towing, understanding the legal speed limit, proper insurance and the importance of breakdown recovery and what to do in an emergency.

“Towing has a very good overall safety record,” explained Martin Spencer, technical manager for The Caravan Club.

“When details of untoward incidents are reported to us, however, it is clear that in the overwhelming majority of cases, paying attention to a few simple guidelines would have prevented the incident occurring, allowing the driver and other road users to have had an uneventful journey.”

The Camping and Caravanning Club’s senior technical advisor, Ian Geddes, said: “People choosing to tow must remember the importance of forward planning.

“Allow plenty of time to perform the recommended safety checks on your unit and plan your route before you leave.

“Also, consider travelling in quieter periods where possible to provide a more relaxed and pleasurable towing experience.”

Advice from the Highways Agency includes:

• Carrying out a final maintenance check before setting off

• Being aware that driving with a loaded trailer will inevitably affect the vehicle’s performance

• Checking that the vehicle and trailer are loaded securely and weight is correctly distributed in accordance with the manufacturers’ specifications

• Making sure you are adequately covered for recovery and breakdown

• Taking extra care when reversing

More information, including the film Fit to Tow, a magazine called Hitched and other information can be viewed at highways.gov.uk/knowledge

Towing advice is issued as part of the Highways Agency’s ‘Summer Getaway’ traffic information. Further details can be found on the Highways Agency website at highways.gov.uk/summer

The area also contains advice on securing roof racks and bike racks and helping with planning the journey. New developments for this year include more information screens installed at motorway service areas and a Twitter service with travel information for some of the main holiday routes.

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