Caravanners tips to staying safe on the road

It is an alluring experience being able to take an RV holiday and explore the wonderful landscapes of Australia. That being said, nothing can ruin it faster than a safety issue

 
 

Source @zone.rvcaravans - shared with permission

 

If you are towing a caravan, this will add significant weight to your vehicle and will increase the stress placed on the safety limits of your vehicle, which in turn would increase driver responsibilities and stress.  

Towing a caravan will require careful planning and loading along with a few other elements to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable road trip.

 

 

1.       Pay attention to your weight

 

Make sure you load and weigh your caravan properly. Weight distribution is critical while towing these large vehicles, as incorrect weight and weight distribution could lead to an accident along with other unwanted surprises such as fines from the police and no cover from your insurance provider. Make sure you remain within legal weight limits; you distribute loads as much as possible and that your vehicle is safely able to tow the load of your caravan – check the handbook if in doubt.

 BOSS TIP  - Before heading on your long haul utilize RV weighing stations to ensure you have a safe weight.

 

 

2.       Know your caravan dimensions

 

This is a must! You need to know where your caravan can fit, especially when it comes to the height of your caravan. Measure and memorise the height of your van along with any additional items that are strapped to the roof.

Make sure to be mindful of height clearances under bridges and car parks, overhanging trees, and look out for low clearance signs on public and private roads.

 

 

3.       Car and caravan maintenance

 

It is essential that your towing vehicle is in top mechanical condition. Make sure that your vehicles are up to date with servicing and that the brakes, steering, suspension, tyres, and cooling system are well maintained and in good working condition. It is also important that the tyre pressure and tread; oil, and water are adequate.

 BOSS TIP   - It would be a good idea to check the charge and health of all your batteries, you would not want your battery to die in the middle of your trip.

 

4.       Caravan checklist

 

It is important to have checklists to inspect your vehicle and RV from top to bottom – this will help you not forget anything. Check things like the tyre pressure, all working lights, brakes, and ensure that accessories such as antennas and awnings are all properly secure.

Basic checks before leaving would also include checking that the coupling electrical connection and chains are properly located and secure; power is disconnected; gas bottle is turned off; all windows and cupboards are fastened; step up and jockey are removed and water and wastewater services are disconnected.

 

5.     Car handling 

 

Make sure that you are comfortable with the handling of your vehicle with a caravan hitched to it.

Get familiar with your rig and get a better understanding of the feel of the weight of the van at the back of the car. Know what necessary driving adjustments are needed when driving, especially turning corners, accelerating, braking and overtaking.  Do a few short trips and gradually increase the distance before you take off on a long trip.

 

Remember to:

-           Avoid sudden braking and allow greater distance to slow or stop.

-          Avoid heavy acceleration – remember this also uses excess fuel.

-          Avoid sharp cornering. When taking corners remember the extra length of the rig.

-          Use lower gears when going down hills to maintain vehicle control. This will also assist brakes and reduce the risk of brake failure.

 

 BOSS TIP   - If you are new to RVing or towing a caravan, you should make it a point to learn how to safely drive your unit and practice driving it often. It is a good idea to enrol in a towing education course to learn the basics or if you haven’t travelled in a while polish up on your current skills and build confidence.

 

6.      Avoid sway

 

Developing sway can be extremely dangerous. Sway can be caused when a large heavy vehicle passes by at a fast speed, by uneven road surfaces, and by the effects of crosswinds.

Modern load distributing hitches are available, which can almost eliminate sway. Towing aids such as anti-sway bars or hitches and electronic sway units may reduce the effects of instability.

If you feel that your caravan continues to sway consult with an expert to get the problem solved.

While towing your caravan be aware of the vehicles that are going to overtake you and if safe and possible give them as much room as possible.

Where there are extremely high winds you may even need to make the decision to not tow at all.

 

7.       Driver health

 

Make sure if you or whoever is driving the vehicle is in a good and healthy condition to do so – keeping in mind the distance and additional towing ‘stress’.

Driving long distances can take its toll on the body and mind, especially with the additional stress of towing a caravan, whoever is driving needs to be fit enough to drive for set out distances and remain alert at all times, as well as be able to control the vehicle with the additional weight.

 

8.       Prepare for potential problems

 

It is as important to plan ahead to avoid problems as it is to prepare for if a problem does actually occur.

One of the best safety tips is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential problems on the road.

Make sure you have comprehensive insurance that covers all aspects of your RV trip.

Pack extra ‘just in case’ items such as spare batteries. And of course, have all the essential extras such as car jack, fire extinguisher, spare wheels, and jumper cables, etc.

Check road conditions ahead of time and look out for low bridges, construction, and road closures.

 

 BOSS TIP  - Pack extra ‘just in case’ items such as spare batteries. And of course, have all the essential extras such as car jack, fire extinguisher, spare wheels, and jumper cables, etc.

Check road conditions ahead of time and look out for low bridges, construction, and road closures.

 

9.       Practice general road safety

 

As with driving any vehicle in any conditions, it is important to partake in general safe driving practices such as:

  • Keeping distractions to the minimum. Do not use your phone while driving and ensure pets and children are always safely secured while driving.

  • Keep to the speed limit and keep left unless overtaking. Try not to hold up any traffic behind you.

  • Take regular breaks. Do not drive when fatigued and plan for plenty of rest breaks.

  • Everyone in the vehicle should all be seated with their seatbelt on when in transit.

  • Be on the lookout for wildlife and always anticipate something jumping out of nowhere.

 

There are a variety of possible problems that could cross your path during a long trip. The better prepared you are the better it would be for you to either avoid the problem or recover from it in good time.

 


Now that you’re armed with helpful tools to keep you safe on the road, begin hunting for your perfect RV today. Search our extensive list of motorhomes and caravans for sale in Australia - search now. If you’re planning your trip and need a place to stay, Campstay has the best park or campground near you, search today.

 

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