New CCTV footage shows a caravan snaking out of control on a motorway, narrowly missing other traffic, before overturning and crashing.
The video has been released by the Highways Agency, which is urging drivers to prepare caravans and trailers this Easter.
Last year, there were 764 incidents involving a caravan, trailer or other towed vehicle on the strategic road network in the south east with more than two thirds of these incidents taking place between April and the end of September.
Highways Agency service delivery manager Andy Withington said: “Spring and summer are the peak seasons for towing-related incidents on our roads. Over Easter many people will be hitching up their caravans and trailers for the first time since autumn, so we’re asking them to take time to ensure they’re fit to tow before going on the road.
“Incidents involving towed vehicles can cause long delays for other road users as well as distress for anyone directly involved.
“Although high-speed incidents involving towing can be serious, the majority of problems we see on our roads are breakdowns – which can be avoided with routine checks and maintenance.”
The causes of towing incidents – such as the one shown in the video here, filmed on the M1 in Leicestershire - include overloading the caravan or trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, tyres which have burst because they have not been checked or replaced where needed and poor towing technique.
The Highways Agency advises anyone towing a caravan or trailer to:
- Carry out a final maintenance check before setting off – particularly if it has been left over the winter.
- Pay particular attention to the condition and pressure of the tyres on both the towed and towing vehicle.
- Check that loads in the towed and towing vehicle are secure, that the weight is evenly distributed and is not excessive.
- Be aware of how towing affects the vehicle’s performance – particularly braking distances.
- Use extended mirrors when towing wider trailers, such as caravans, to ensure clear and legal visibility of the trailer and of other vehicles on the road.
- Check they have an appropriate driving licence for the vehicle and trailer combination.
- Know the correct speed limit for the vehicle and roads.
- Make sure they have proper breakdown cover in place.
Drivers towing boats in particular should take care to keep the hubs of their trailers out of cold water, as this can stop the grease working and lead to failed bearings.
Aside from the Highways Agency more help is available from www.caravanclub.co.uk and www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk