Safe Towing Skills including Reversing a Caravan/Trailer.
SAFE TOWING ON THE ROAD
This is the fifteenth page of 23 with related information about making the most of your caravan holiday. At the bottom of this page I have links to the other pages and I suggest you check these out as well.
Hopefully, by the time you commence your tour, much of the hard work of getting ready for your trip is behind you. Having said that, there are still plenty of things to attend to as you travel. You will have daily, weekly and ongoing checking to make sure your rig is well maintained. You understand and have practiced driver safe towing techniques needed for a safe trip. There are daily checks to be made, fuel use to be calculated, caravan parks to be selected and settled into, ongoing money matters, and daily health and safety issues to be considered.
The information contained on this page will help you take care of your safe towing tasks as efficiently as possible to allow plenty of time for you to enjoy your caravan holiday.
Towing a caravan or camper is not just a matter of hooking up and heading off. Specialist driving skills are needed and regulations must be observed.
Australia has a set of national regulations for weight limits for towing vehicles. Speed limits may also apply. In most States, motorists are required only to observe normal speed limits as signed. On some of the Northern Territory’s outback roads where there are no limits, caravanners are asked to drive at a safe towing speed. In Tasmania a 90 km/h limit applies. In Western Australia a 90 km/h limit applies where the caravan weighs over 750 kg and 100 km/h for caravans under 750 kg
SAFE TOWING SKILLS
If you have not towed a caravan before, make sure you get some practice before leaving home. Waiting until you are on the road to perfect your safe towing techniques may result in you annoying other drivers, attract bemused spectators especially when you are trying to reverse your caravan into your camping site and you may have to contend with poorly maintained roads and bad weather conditions in an unfamiliar and possibly dangerous towing skill.
Learn to Reverse
Reversing is one of the most important towing skills. You will regularly need to reverse your caravan 90 degrees into a space, and often across a kerb. Before you leave on your tour, take your van to a large parking area (shopping centre or sporting complex car park) on a quiet day and practice until you feel confident. After that, all parking and reversing should not be a problem.
The simple rule of thumb is that steering works in the opposite way to normal, so if you want the van to go to the left, turn the steering wheel in your car to the right ('right hand down').
Another safe towing skill is overtaking. You will not have as much power as normal when you are towing a van, so allow adequate distance for the reduced acceleration of your car. Also make allowances of the extra length of you unit when veering left back into the driving lane. If you are being overtaken, slow down or at least maintain your current speed and keep to the left but not far enough to force the wheels on your van off the sealed surface.
Avoid Trailer Sway
Crosswinds can be a problem when towing because the caravan’s pick up the wind and they do not deflect any. The combination of high speed and crosswinds can cause trailer sway, which dangerously destabilises both towing vehicle and caravan. When you are driving you will feel it and a glance in the rear-view mirror will confirm the problem. Rectify the situation by easing back on your speed. Brake, if necessary, very gently to avoid compounding the problem and then increase your speed again gradually to a safe speed.
Be Courteous to Other Drivers
Caravans and motorhomes should travel as safely as they can with the flow of traffic. We have all seen cars towing caravans cruising along a main highway at about 60 km/h, with an endless stream of traffic following. If you desire to travel at a slower speed and the traffic does build behind you, you should regularly pull off the road to let the traffic flow by.
Allow for Extra Weight
Towing a van will make the acceleration and braking on your vehicle much slower. A couple of driving techniques can help. On long, steep uphill sections, select a gear that the towing vehicle is comfortable with. Keep the revs to the higher end of the operating range to help prevent overheating. Avoid letting the engine lug at low revs in a higher gear. On long, steep downhill sections, keep your speed under control and keep the brakes as cool as possible. Select a lower gear and let the engine do as much braking as possible. Increasing the efficiency of the electric trailer brakes on the controller will allow the van to help slow the towing vehicle. Many motorhomes are fitted with engine brakes, which work very efficiently on long downhill section.
Contact Us here if you want me to e-mail the full information about your caravan holiday and safe towing.
8 Planning Your Trip (when to travel, weather, school and public holidays, local events, finding your way, GPS, maps and guides, visitor information centres, permits, Aboriginal land, National Parks, private land)
Hopefully, after digesting all this information you will have a fantastic caravan holiday. (With many more extended trips in the future). If you find it all too hard have a look at where Our Tours go and you may wish to consider one of these.