SHOCKING new motorway camera footage shows the potential dangers of towing caravans and trailers.
As the bank holiday weekend approaches, thousands in Worcestershire will be preparing to get away from it all, and the Highways Agency has urged drivers to prepare caravans and trailers properly.
Last year in the West Midlands alone, there were 866 incidents involving caravans, trailers and other towed vehicles.
The CCTV footage shows a caravan snaking out of control, narrowly missing other traffic on the M1 in Leicestershire, before overturning and colliding with the safety barrier.
Highways Agency Service Delivery Manager Andy Withington said: “Spring and summer are the peak seasons for towing-related incidents on our roads.
"Over Easter many people will be hitching up their caravans and trailers for the first time since autumn, so we’re asking them to take time to ensure they’re fit to tow before going on the road.
“Incidents involving towed vehicles can cause long delays for other road users as well as distress for anyone directly involved.
“Although high speed incidents involving towing can be serious, the majority of problems we see on our roads are breakdowns – which can be avoided with routine checks and maintenance.”
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 where needed and poor towing technique, he said.
The Highways Agency advises anyone towing a caravan or trailer to:
• carry out a final maintenance check before setting off – particularly if it has been left over the winter
• pay particular attention to the condition and pressure of the tyres on both the towed and towing vehicle
• check that loads in the towed and towing vehicle are secure, that the weight is evenly distributed and is not excessive
• be aware of how towing affects the vehicle’s performance – particularly braking distances
• use extended mirrors when towing wider trailers, such as caravans, to ensure clear and legal visibility of the trailer and of other vehicles on the road
• check they have an appropriate driving licence for the vehicle and trailer combination
• know the correct speed limit for the vehicle and roads
• make sure they have proper breakdown cover in place
Martin Spencer and Ian Hewlett from The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club said in a statement: “Fit to Tow gives road users basic towing advice on issues like driving licence limits and judging vehicle and trailer capabilities, ensuring you’re safe for and on the road.
“It’s important and a legal requirement that all trailers including caravans, trailer tents, folding campers and basic trailers are roadworthy. Schemes like the Approved Workshop Scheme (approvedworkshops.co.uk) help achieve this.
“Add simple user checks on items like tyres and couplings, plus awareness of what causes instability, and towing a trailer should always be safe and enjoyable. Make sure you have an appropriate towing vehicle, have a correctly loaded caravan or trailer and keep to sensible speeds (especially downhill), and the instability shown in the video is effectively impossible.”
For more information and advice visit caravanclub.co.uk and campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk.