A Guide to Towing Caravans, Trailers or Horseboxes
you are taking to the roads with a caravan, trailer or horsebox, don't
set out without a final safety and maintenance check, especially if you
leave it standing for most of the year.
To raise awareness of the safety risks involved when towing a caravan or trailer and the importance of ensuring you are towing safely, the Highways Agency has issued a new safety DVD, Fit to Tow, presented by Carol Smillie.
The video can be found on the Highways Agency website and a handy 'Fit to Tow' check list can be downloaded below
Fit to Tow Checklist (84KB PDF)
Before you set off
Carry out a final maintenance check before you set off.
* Is the load correctly distributed and firmly secured?
* Are all the lights undamaged and working correctly?
* Are the tyre pressures correct and all tyres in good condition?
* Is the trailer correctly coupled to the tow ball or pin?
* Is the coupling height correct? It should be level.
On the Road
Driving with a loaded trailer will inevitably affect the vehicle's performance:
* Moving off needs more effort.
* It will take longer to slow down and stop.
* You need to take extra care when negotiating sharp bends.
You need to check:
* That the vehicle and trailer are loaded securely and correctly distributed in accordance with the manufacturers' specifications.
Are you adequately covered for recovery and breakdown?
Most recovery agents won't cover a trailer unless it's specified in your contract. Make sure you have specialist breakdown cover. Standard trailer insurance does not automatically include breakdown cover.
Do you have caravan or trailer insurance?
It is very important to ensure you have adequate caravan insurance or trailer insurance cover. You must have specialist insurance cover for a caravan or trailer if you plan to tow on public highways in the UK and Europe. In most circumstances you will not be covered by your car insurance.
Reversing with a Trailer
* Make sure the area behind you is clear before reversing.
* Be especially aware of children and pedestrians.
* Try to get somebody to observe for you.
* Practice makes perfect! Try reversing before setting off.
Have you got the Right Licence?
An ordinary category B licence allows you to drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes Maximum Gross Weight and to tow a trailer that weighs up to 750 kilograms Maximum Gross Weight, giving a Maximum Combination Weight of up to 4250 kilograms.
Drivers who have got a B category licence are entitled to tow a trailer over 750 kilograms Maximum Gross Weight provided that the gross weight of the trailer does not exceed the unladen or kerb weight of the towing vehicle, and the maximum combination weight does not exceed a total of 3.5 tonnes.
If you want to drive a larger vehicle or pull a heavier trailer you will need to take a category B + E driving test.
For more information on what your license will allow you to drive and tow visit: www.gov.uk/towing-rules
* Always keep within the legal speed limit.
* 30mph limit applies on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise.
* 50mph applies on single carriageways unless signs show otherwise.
* 60mph applies on dual carriageways and motorways.
NOTE: You must not travel in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three lanes or more.
Avoid problems before they happen
* Following these 4 simple rules could help you to avoid unnecessary repairs.
* Avoid parking your trailer on long grass - moisture could damage it.
* When you park up, you must not leave a detached trailer on a public road.
If it is hitched up it must always be parked with lights on at night on any public road.
* On a level surface if it is safe to do so, avoid parking with the handbrake on.
* Grease all the greasing points with a grease gun, plus the brake cables or rods, and handbrake.
What if you break down on a motorway?
Remember it is illegal to stop on a hard shoulder except in an emergency. If an emergency forces you to stop, then follow these top 5 personal safety tips from the Highways Agency:
* Pull onto the hard shoulder and park as far to the left as you can.
* Turn on your vehicle?s hazard warning lights.
* Leave the vehicle via the doors furthest away from traffic and stand as far away from traffic as is safe.
* Contact the Highways Agency using the emergency roadside telephone.
* Follow the instructions of the Highways Agency staff.