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Beginners guide to towing

Towing a caravan for the first time may seem a scary prospect, but it needn’t be. Here are some handy hints…

When you’re towing, you’ll need to give yourself more time and space for everything. It’s best to brake earlier than normal and you’ll probably accelerate more slowly with a caravan on the back. The extra length means you will need to take corners more widely than normal so the back of the caravan doesn’t clip the kerb or cut the corner.

Remember, the legal speed limits are often lower when you’re towing. Don’t exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways. You may not tow in the further right (outside) lane of a three-or-more lane motorway unless instructed to do so and it is a legal requirement to always have a good view to the rear of your unit, which will mean using extensions mirrors in the vast majority of combinations (don’t forget to take them off when you’re not towing!).

Never carry passengers in the caravan when you’re towing it. It’s theoretically legal to transport animals inside a caravan, but it’s definitely not recommended.

Your number plate must show your car’s registration number, conform to the relevant British Standard, and be illuminated at night. This means no felt-pen on cardboard!

Remember to check before driving off and keep an eye out for anything that changes during your journey. Your car must show that the indicators are working while you are driving.

Park carefully where you won’t cause an obstruction. Caravans must not be parked in parking meter bays.

Your ability to legally tow will depend on the driving licence you hold. It’s paramount you’re fully covered by your driving licence for towing your caravan, as it’s against the law and your caravan insurance can be invalidated if you are not.

If you obtained your licence on or after 1 January 1997, you will be able to tow a car/caravan combination weighing 3,500kg or less – that’s the total gross mass of car and caravan or trailer combined (as identified on the vehicle weight plates). To be able to tow a heavier caravan, you’ll need to pass an additional driving test.

The Camping and Caravanning Club has information and a list of course providers covering courses and training to help you reach the required standard. Local training organisations can also be found through the DVLA.

If the thought of towing is preventing you from buying a caravan, then talk to us. There are places where you can have a go before you buy a unit, and at Ropers Caravan World we can help point you in the right direction for the help and advice you need. Give us a call today!

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