Figures from Highways England, the government-run company in charge of the country’s motorways and major A-roads, said around 4,000 accidents a year involved trailers of one description or another. That’s an average of just under 11 per day.
As a result, Highways England is calling on drivers to ensure their trailers and caravans are towed in the safest way possible. The organisation has urged drivers to make sure they have the right licences to tow their trailer, and to ensure the vehicle and trailer are loaded properly.
According to the firm, poorly loaded vehicles, overloaded vehicles and insufficient trailer noseweight (the weight on the towbar when the trailer is being towed) have all caused accidents, along with trailers that are too heavy for the car and driving too quickly. Crosswinds, which can cause the whole rig to become unstable, have also been cited.
With that in mind, Highways England has issued advice to motorists, telling them to check their licences to find out what they can tow, as well as making sure their vehicles and trailers are correctly loaded. Vehicles have published towing weight limits and noseweight limits, while trailers and towbars will also tell you what the noseweight should be, helping you to load the vehicle and trailer appropriately.
The organisation has issued driving advice, too, telling drivers to remember that it is an offence to drive at more than 60 mph while towing - even on a motorway - and that extra room should be allowed while overtaking to avoid the vehicle or trailer becoming unstable. And if the outfit does lose stability, drivers are urged to slow gently without using the brakes and let the rig ‘twitch’ as over-compensating for small deviations can have dramatic consequences.
Highways England’s strategic road safety lead, Stuart Lovatt, said although the road network sees few accidents, motorists need to make sure they are towing as safely as possible.
“Thankfully incidents are very rare but now is the time to remind motorists of the need to make sure you have carried out proper checks and have loaded the trailer or vehicle correctly,” he said. “We have all sorts travelling on our network including horse boxes, trailer tents and leisure vehicles such as boats and caravans. Our message is really simple, check it before towing it. So that everyone gets home, safe and well.”