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Towing Safety and Advice

This article describes the basic advice given by the Highways Agency on how to prepare your vehicle, drive in a safe way, and ensure that your insurance is adequate.

General Towing Advice

Don't drive over the maximum weight allowed for your vehicle and trailer.

You should always try to understand the towing safety regulations, and of course you will need to possess the right driving licence for towing.

Roadside Recovery and Insurance

Your cover will need to include your caravan or trailer - so check whether you will need specialist cover.

Conducting a Basic Safety Check

Your caravan and trailer should be serviced at regular intervals to ensure their safety and good operation/running.

Check that the lights work properly, that the tyre pressures are correct, and the tyres are in good condition.

Also check that the coupling is fitted securely, is level and is positioned at the right height. If there are internal friction pads, ensure the tow ball is clean and dry with no grease.

Last but not least, check the vehicle and trailer are securely connected and weight is distributed as advised by the manufacturer.

Using a Breakaway Cable

A breakaway cable controls the brakes of a braked trailer. Non-braked trailers should use a suitable strong and short cable or chain. This will keep the trailer attached to the car and stops the front of the trailer making contact with the road if the caravan is separated from the car.

Make and Use an Emergency Kit

If you break down or there is an accident, it might be helpful to create a kit the following items:

  • Mobile phone
  • Warning triangle or flashing light
  • Jump leads
  • Torch
  • Warm jacket or clothing
  • Your breakdown recovery details

Driving and Towing

You should bear in mind that vehicles towing will be slower to move off, and stop, and sharp bends may be more difficult to manoeuvre. Reversing can also be difficult so practise and be comfortable before you make long journeys.

You should ensure the area around and behind you is clear before starting to move. Be aware of children and pedestrians, and ask someone to guide you if possible.

Know Speed Limits

The speed limits are as follows:

  • 30mph on roads with street lighting, unless a sign shows otherwise
  • 50mph on a single carriageway, unless a sign shows otherwise
  • 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways

Motorway Towing

Do not drive over 60mph or use the right hand (fast) lane on motorways where there are three or more lanes.

Parking with Care

Do not leave a detached caravan or trailer on a public road. Always leave the lights on the trailer when it is parked at night.

Try to park on a level surface off the road. Park without the handbrake as this can lead to seized brake drums. Instead place a chock securely under each wheel. Avoid long grass as it can damage the caravan or trailer.

Last updated: Monday 25th July 2011

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