With the sun out (well hopefully out) and the long summer holidays ahead you are probably planning your trip. There is a lot to think about what with finding the right destination and ensuring your van is kitted out just right. Anyone who takes a caravan on the road will tell you that there is more to that trip than just jumping in the car and hitting the road.
One thing we are always keen to make sure people understand here at Venture caravans is that you should also remember the safety and legal requirements. We want you to have a great time but we also want you to be safe. So here are a few things to check.
1. Check your licence. For most people towing a caravan is perfectly legal. What it often comes down to is the Maximum Authorised Mass. This is based on the kerb weight of your vehicle. You can find this in your manual or on a plate somewhere on your car. (Often this is in one of the doorjambs.) What you can drive on your vehicle licence depends on when it was issued. If it was before January 2013 then you can probably drive a trailer of up to 750Kgs and your vehicle can be up to 3.5 tonnes. We suggest you check, but you should be fine. If you licence was issued after January 2013 then you will still be allowed a 750Kg tow but your total weight should be less than 3.5 tonnes. These restrictions change so please check the direct.gov.uk website regularly.
2. Mirrors and visibility. Towing a van is not as simple as driving a car. You will need mirrors to make sure you have as full a view of the road as possible. Sadly not all traffic is aware that you have slightly reduced visibility, so fit extended mirrors and give yourself extra time for manoeuvring. Unfortunately the boy racers and inexperienced drivers may not realise you need a bit of extra consideration
3. Practice makes perfect. If you haven’t taken your van out for a while why not consider a short trip when the traffic is quiet. It will give you time to get yourself back in the habit of driving.
4. Life is slower in a caravan. That is true on holiday and on the journey there. Remember you are restricted to 60mph on the motorway and major roads. There is nothing that says you need to drive at this speed though so try to keep your speed constant and with the flow of traffic.
5. The 85 rule. This is a simple and easy way to check if you are stable and balanced. Look at the kerb weight of your vehicle and your caravan and make sure that the weight of the caravan is not more than 85% of your vehicle weight. Higher than 85% and you could well run into problems with stability and manoeuvring.
6. Going Abroad? If you are going to be driving abroad make sure you have checked the local regulations and the restriction imposed by ferries.
Drive safely, check the legalities and the safety advice and you will have a great summer.
This blog was written by Dave Brown. Dave is a Director of his family business which began in 1971. He has a wealth of experience in this sector starting as a workshop apprentice straight from school in 1982. Married with two children, Dave has been an enthusiastic Rugby player since the age of 8, only retiring this year. He will now spend more time travelling in his VW Campervan and watching his favourite team, the Northampton Saints.