There are around 4,000 incidents a year involving all forms of trailers, leading Highways England to issue towing advice ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Drivers are advised to ensure they have the correct licence and insurance to tow, as well as checking the vehicle is connected correctly and the load is secure.
Many of the towing incidents are caused by preventable mistakes, says Highways England, including:
- Poorly loaded trailer
- Overloaded trailer
- Insufficient nose weight
- Load too heavy for the car’s towing capacity
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Serious crosswinds
Highways England’s strategic road safety lead, Stuart Lovatt said: “Thankfully incidents are very rare but now is the time to remind motorists of the need to make sure you have carried out proper checks and have loaded the trailer or vehicle correctly.
“We have all sorts travelling on our network including horse boxes, trailer tents and leisure vehicles such as boats and caravans. Our message is really simple, check it before towing it. So that everyone gets home, safe and well.”
Towing advice for drivers
- Reduce the risk of inherent instability by making sure the outfit is correctly matched (car suitable for the caravan or trailer load) and that it’s correctly loaded, including that the nose weight is sufficient.
- Choose a car and caravan/trailer with stability aids, but don’t rely on them to correct an inherently unstable outfit. They will, however, make a safe outfit safer still.
- Drive within the speed limits for towing – 60mph on a motorway unless signage states slower. Take particular care when going downhill and/or overtaking to ensure that speed does not build up excessively.
- Reduce speed if conditions are not favourable (e.g. crosswind).
- When passing or being passed by large vehicles, maximise the separation between themselves and the caravan/trailer by using the available lane width (with due regard for vehicles in other lanes).
- If instability still occurs, do not brake, but instead ease off the accelerator and allow the speed to drop. Let the steering wheel twitch; do not try to steer against the motion of the car. Do not try to accelerate, to ‘pull the outfit straight’. This is likely to result in the return of instability at an even greater speed.
- Following an instability scare, check all possible contributory factors, and address any which are not optimum to ensure no re-occurrence.
Highways England has removed 700 miles of roadworks from major A-roads and motorways, with 22 million leisure trips planned over the Bank Holiday weekend.