Make sure you know all of the law around towing before you set off for your weekend away to avoid some nasty fines.
There are a few general laws to be aware of. You must be at least 18-years-old to tow a caravan and the caravan cannot exceed 2.55m (wide) by 7m (long).
Before you can even think about hitching a caravan to the back of your vehicle, you need to make sure your towbar is ‘Type Approved’. This follows towbar regulation set by the EU and applies to all cars after 1st August 1998. If you don’t have this though, you could face a fine of up to £2,500. Ouch. When an approved towbar costs around £400-500 including parts and fitting, it’s not worth the risk.
You will have seen plenty of caravan owners with mirror extenders on their car and these are mandatory by law if the caravan is wider than the car. It’s also common sense really as you wouldn’t be able to see behind you with the caravan blocking your view. But if you don’t have the mirror extenders, you can face a fine of up to £1,000.
You will have heard the terms ‘braked’ and ‘unbraked’ when it comes to towing. They are about as self-explanatory as that too. When it comes to the law though, you can tow an ‘unbraked’ caravan if it weighs less than 750kg or half the kerb weight of your vehicle- whichever is lower. If the caravan weighs more than that, most of them do, then the caravan will have to have it’s own braking system.
It’s a familiar site to see a caravan at the head of a queue on a single-lane country road. However, did you know you can land yourself with a hefty fine? There are some instances where there is not a safe space for the driver to move into to allow traffic to pass and you will not receive a fine if you are holding up six or more cars on this occasion.
If you do not move out of the way to let vehicles pass when it is safe to do so, you can receive a fine of up to an eyewatering, bank-account emptying, £5,000 and receive 3-9 penalty points on your licence.
You will see caravans on the motorway using the inside lanes. Partly this is because they cannot use the outside lanes of a road with three or more lanes but the speed limit is 10mph lower for those towing. That means 60mph for dual carriageways and motorways and 50mph for single lane roads. Obviously, speeding fines apply.
When you’re driving a car, the stopping distance at 60mph is 73m (240ft). When you’re towing a caravan, your stopping distance can be more than twice that. This is part of the reason for a lower speed limit for caravanners.
However, if you have tyres with tread below the legal limit your stopping distance will be much greater and you could risk a blowout. For every tyre on your caravan that does not meet the tread depth of 1.6mm you could be fined £2,500 for every tyre deemed to be dangerous.
The weight limits for caravans you can tow on an ordinary car licence vary depending on when you passed your driving test.
If you passed your test before 1st of January 1997, you’re allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination with a maximum authorized mass (MAM) of 8,250kg. For context, that exceeds a Ford Ranger pickup truck (2.2 tonnes) towing the maximum towing weight of 3500kg with a 2.5 tonne leeway.
If you passed your test after 1st of January 1997 and before 18th January 2013, you can have a combined maximum weight of 4250kg (MAM).
If you passed your test after 19th January 2013, you are permitted to tow a trailer over 750kg as long as the overall MAM is no more than 3500kg as a combination of the vehicle towing and the trailer itself.
You can make sure you’re doing the right thing and following all of the correct laws but that doesn’t mean everyone else is. You can capture it all and even lower your insurance premium at the same time by keeping a dashcam running whilst you’re driving. Check out our range of dash cams!