- Five years of targeted roadside checks showed overloading was an issue with over 15% of the caravans examined
- 40% of caravanners weren’t fitted with the correct towing mirrors
Easter is traditionally the first time many caravanners take to the roads as the weather warms up and it is the first school holiday of the year. The Caravan Club is issuing a reminder to caravanners to be vigilant and ensure all safety checks are carried out prior to setting off on their travels.
For five years Operation Velopy, a safety campaign organised by officers of the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) supported by VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency), the Highways Agency and The Caravan Club, checked caravans, trailers and their tow vehicles to ensure they were fit for purpose.
The educational operation was undertaken at service stations on the M5 during peak holidaying times and with this in mind The Caravan Club has issued its top safety tips for caravanners this Easter.
- Towing mirrors –At least 40% of caravanners stopped by the Operation Velopy team had only one or no towing mirrors. Tow cars must be fitted with adequate mirrors by law. Installing two towing extension mirrors greatly improves vision for drivers and overall safety on the road, and is a legal requirement for the overwhelming majority of car-caravan combinations.
- Overloading – Operation Velopy found that over 15% of the caravans targeted for examination were overweight and badly loaded, which can lead to serious safety risks. Weight has to be distributed appropriately inside the caravan and towing vehicle. Overloading affects stability and can impact on tyre safety. Care when loading should be an essential part of every caravanner’s preparations before setting off.
- Tyre maintenance – ensure tyre tread depths on both your towing vehicle and van are over the legal limit. The UK (and European) legal minimum requirement is 1.6 mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread and round the entire outer circumference of the tyre. Don’t forget the spare! Caravannners are advised to change van tyres every five years to maximise safety. Incorrect tyre pressure is also a significant safety risk when it comes to caravanning; this is often linked to premature tyre failure.
- Correctly fixing the breakaway cable – Caravanners are advised to ensure this is attached properly prior to beginning their journey. Advice on correctly fixing the breakaway cable can be found at caravanclub.co.uk/expert-advice
Recently published figures from the Highways Agency show that in the CMPG patrol area there were 20 incidents of caravans overturning during the year ending March 2009.
“Easter is the first time of the year that the majority of caravan owners take to the road and it is imperative that basic checks are carried out to ensure the safety of all road users,” says Martin Spencer, The Caravan Club’s Technical Manager.
“The Caravan Club is dedicated to offering its members the best advice and we should learn from the Operation Velopy results and make sure motorists don’t make the same mistakes each year.”