When was the last time you gave someone a piggyback? Been a while? Perhaps it wasn’t so long ago. Whatever the case, what you’ll likely remember is that you have to adjust the way you walk to ensure your own safety, that of the person you’re piggybacking and possibly even other people who are in or near your path.
The same principles apply when you’re towing a caravan, trailer or a boat on the back of your car. It’s impossible to drive in the same way you would without the extra weight and length you’re carrying behind you without becoming a danger to yourself and others. So whether you’re going on holiday or just to the rubbish tip, here are four important safety tips to abide by when you’re towing a vehicle on the back of your car.
The size and weight of your vehicle will determine how much weight you’re legally able to tow, so get to know your car: its maximum tow rating, the ball weight of the towed vehicle (i.e. trailer, caravan etc) and also the fully loaded weight of the towed vehicle. Be aware that the trailer ball weight, or maximum capacity weight of your caravan or trailer must not go above the maximum tow rating of the towing vehicle. This means that if your car weighs 1100kg and your trailer is capable of holding 800kg, that 800kg is the most you are able to tow.
Long haul road trips can be hard work; particularly when you have a caravan attached to your tow bar. Not only do you need to drive slower to account for the extra weight, but you also have to account for the extra length you’re carrying by being aware of the roads and how they will affect your driving. Long, straight freeways will obviously be much easier to negotiate than winding roads that go uphill and downhill. By thinking ahead about which roads and highways you’ll take, and of course scheduling breaks from driving (every two hours is good) you can plan for the safest possible travelling experience.
Does your trailer, boat or caravan weigh over 750kg? If yes, then you are legally required to ensure it has working brakes installed. “But how do those brakes work when the vehicle’s motor isn’t working?” I hear you ask. Never fear – unlike that awkward moment of walking into the back of someone as they suddenly stop directly in front of you, the electric brake controller prevents your caravan or trailer from doing the same to your car. The controller gets installed in your car, and activates the brakes in the towed vehicle as you slow down to stop. Read more about these extremely useful devices here.
If you’ve never driven while towing another vehicle, you need to understand that you can’t drive in the same manner you otherwise would. We cannot stress this enough. Abide by the safety rules, use commonsense while you drive, take less busy roads if you need to. Getting to your destination in one piece without being a hazard to yourself or others – that is what’s most important.
If you’re planning a trip around Australia with a caravan attached to the back of your vehicle, and want to make sure everything is safe and ready to go before you leave, call FiveStar Towbars in Melbourne today. We service the entire metropolitan area with the best in towbar installations, maintenance and installations of electric brake controllers and much more.