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Towing a caravan can be harder than you think.  When you’re shopping for a caravan or a trailer, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment – thinking about how awesome it will be to be able to nip from site to site and explore new places. However, a caravan is not a simple accessory like cheap private number plates or a new in-car entertainment system might be; once you get on the road you’ll soon realise that driving while towing a caravan is rather different to driving a car by itself.  If you want to make sure that you’re safe on the roads, consider the following:

Do you Have the Right Licence?
Be sure to check the weight of the trailer, and check your licence to make sure that you’re allowed to tow the vehicle.  If you have a category B or BE licence, you can tow trailers up to a certain weight.  The rules will be changing on the 19th January 2013, so be sure to check the Directgov website to confirm which restrictions apply to your licence type.

Are You Covered for Breakdowns?
Before you set off, make sure that your breakdown service covers you for the recovery of your vehicle.  If you aren’t covered and you end up stranded, you could have to pay extra to get your caravan towed.  Remember you’ll need to get an additional cherished number plate to display on the back of your new caravan to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Practice Parking
Parking with a trailer can be quite tricky.  Give yourself plenty of space, and try to have someone directing you to make sure that you get into place safely.  If you’re not used to manoeuvring a caravan, go somewhere deserted and practice until you get the hang of it.

If you’re going to be stopped for a while, and you’re parked on a level surface away from public roads, leave the handbrake off, and put a chock under each wheel.

Remember the Speed Limits
When you’re driving a trailer, you must stick to the following speed limits:

  • 30mph on all roads with street lighting (unless signs say otherwise)
  • 50mph on a single carriageway (unless signs say otherwise)
  • 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways

You are not permitted to use the right-hand lane on a motorway of three or more lanes while you are towing a caravan or trailer.

Take Care When Reversing (And Driving in General)
Reversing is difficult when you are towing a caravan, so you should take extra care. Make sure that the area behind you is clear before you try to reverse, and, if at all possible, ask someone to guide you and alert you to any new hazards.  Remember that your view will be obscured by the caravan, so you may miss pedestrians, especially children that run behind your vehicle.

Don’t forget that your vehicle will be slower to pull out, and will also take longer to slow down.  Taking tight corners will also be more challenging, so you should drive slowly, and give yourself plenty of time to respond to potential hazards.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of The Plate Market who can help you purchase a cherished number plate or cheap private number plates for your new caravan. Please click here to find out about private plates.

Photo: Elsie Esq

Photo: Highways Agency