The summer holidays may be over, meaning no more staycations for the foreseeable future. However, your next getaway should be carefully planned. The UK Government has introduced a number of changes regarding the towing of trailers and caravans.
Weight limitations have been scrapped on towing for drivers who passed their test after 1 January 1997. This means you will no longer have to take the additional B+E category test if you want to tow a full-size caravan or a two-horse trailer.
This decision has been taken to allow DVLA instructors to focus on conducting more HGV tests to address the UK’s current shortage of HGV drivers.
In light of the announcement, GEM Motoring Assist, the road safety and breakdown organisation, has compiled six basic towing tips relevant for anyone planning to tow a trailer, horse box or caravan in light of the announcement.
Check your insurance
Most policies do cover you for third party when towing. However, assume nothing. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have the appropriate cover.
Check your breakdown cover
Most recovery companies won’t cover a trailer unless it is specified in your contract. GEM Motoring Assist’s award-winning breakdown recovery service covers trailers and caravans.
Moving off needs more effort, slowing down and stopping takes a lot longer and bends need to be approached slowly and carefully. Many trailers, caravans and horseboxes, for example, are wider and taller than the towing vehicle, so take extra care with road positioning, especially when pulling over alongside kerbs, entering toll booths or refueling at petrol stations.
Leave extra room on bends
Trailers cut corners when turning, so always leave yourself extra room on corners and bends.
Know what the road is doing, and know what everyone else on the road is doing as well. If you see a car far ahead put its brakes on, start to slow down yourself, don’t wait for the car directly in front to brake. With a loaded trailer you will not stop as quickly as you are used to, so leave plenty of space.
Know the rules
Be aware of the lower speed restrictions for trailers, and remember that when towing, you are not permitted in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three lanes or more.
Reverse with confidence
The first and foremost rule is slow and steady, as the faster you do it, the faster you can get into trouble. Find a big empty field or car park so you can quietly practice and make your own mistakes. To steer the trailer, remember that you need to move the wheel in the opposite direction to that if you were reversing the car with no trailer. This can be really tricky but practice makes perfect – the more you do it the more natural it becomes.
GEM chief executive, Neil Worth, urged drivers, whatever their experience level, to put safety first on every towing journey: “Doing away with the test raises safety concerns, but we take the view that individual responsibility must be even more of a priority for every driver who’s towing.
“We all need to ensure we know what we’re doing before setting off with a trailer.”