Thursday, 24 January 2013

Towing me, towing you

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising on towing techniques.

Rodger said: "Whether you're towing a speedboat, a horsebox, a caravan or another car, there are certain rules which must be applied. It is important to recognise the challenges which come with having to control not just one vehicle, but two."

Rodger offers tips for successfully towing another vehicle:

  • Watch the weight of the towed vehicle – this should not exceed 85 per cent of the car's kerb weight. Excess weight will cause instability.
  • Check the unit you are towing is secure before pulling away, and check again after a short distance.  Look for anything loose, disconnected, missing or broken.
  • Check that your extra rear lights are all connected and fully functional. Get somebody to help while you test the brakes and indicators. As well as additional lights, you will also need an illuminated number plate at the rear of the unit.
  • Check the pressure of all tyres before you set off, bearing in mind those of the towed unit as well as your own vehicle.
  • Stopping distances and the space between you and other vehicles should be increased appropriately, allowing for the extra weight you are carrying. You should also allocate more time to overtaking, positioning yourself for turns, parking, pulling into traffic streams, changing lanes and joining and leaving motorways.
  • Use your mirrors frequently - the fact you have lost the use of your rear view mirror makes extended door mirrors very useful. Extended towing mirrors are not a legal requirement, but you will have a better feel for overtaking and reversing.
  • Be aware that reduced speed limits usually apply when towing vehicles, and remember to extend courtesy to vehicles following you by allowing them to pass. 

If you would like any further help and advice on towing, you may want to consider signing up for a manoeuvring course with the Camping and Caravanning Club, which now has a tie up with the IAM's own towing test.

To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched its winter driving campaign which includes a dedicated website, drivingadvice.org.uk, with traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter. Check it out before you travel.

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