There comes a day when many drivers need to tow something. Perhaps you’re off on a jolly, and you want to take the caravan with you, maybe you’re moving house and you’ve filled up a trailer, or you find yourself in a situation where you’ve come to the rescue of a friend in need. Whatever your reason for towing, it’s essential to adapt your driving style to stay safe.
Towing a car
If you come across a damsel in distress or you get a call from a friend begging for help, it is possible to harness the power of your vehicle to move them to safety.
If they’ve broken down in the middle of the road, for example, you can tow them to the nearest lay-by or the hard shoulder. When you’re towing, you need to reduce your speed dramatically and ensure that the vehicle on tow has a sign in the back stating that it is on tow. Ensure the car is secured properly, and don’t exceed a speed of 15 mph.
It’s important to understand that you can’t tow cars for long distances, as this may pose a risk to you as a driver, and other vehicles using the road. Once you’ve reached a safe place, wait for breakdown assistance to arrive.
Towing a trailer
Firstly, if you tow heavy objects on a regular basis, it’s advisable to research vehicles with self levelling suspension. This feature adapts the height of the rear axle automatically to prevent the back of the car from dropping. When the car has a heavy load attached, the pneumatic cylinders contained within the axle inflate, raising the chassis.
If you’re towing a trailer, you’ll need an EU approved towbar. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to have one fitted by a professional.
Once the trailer is attached, you can move off slowly. Always bear in mind that the trailer will increase the length and weight of your vehicle.
Reduce your speed, and give yourself plenty of time to turn at junctions and negotiate roundabouts.
The trailer won’t follow the course of your car exactly, so you’ll need to swing out slightly further when you’re going around bends.
Take extra care on uneven surfaces, and try and avoid potholes.
Brake carefully, and avoid sudden movements, as this can cause you to jackknife.
Towing a caravan
When you’re towing a caravan, the first thing to make sure is that the vehicle is attached securely. Reduce your speed, and keep to the inside lane when you’re travelling on motorways and dual carriageways.
Give yourself plenty of time and space when manoeuvring the vehicle, and pull over in a safe place if the weather changes very quickly.
Towing can be treacherous in high winds and heavy rain. Avoid braking suddenly unless you absolutely have to, and keep your distance from the vehicle in front.
Remember that your stopping time and distance will increase when you’re towing.
If you’re towing a vehicle, it’s essential to be aware of the risks involved, and to modify the way you drive to keep you and other drivers safe.