Towing a caravan safely is not only about having the right set-up but also the right mentality when on the road, and adjusting your driving style to suit this new set of conditions. When towing a caravan, driving will feel and be different, with a whole new set of circumstances and hazards you need to look out for. The following 6 driving attitudes are ones you will need to adopt when towing caravan's on the road.
1. I'm not a race car
This is a conscious thing to be aware off before you start driving. You may think you can be as fast and agile as driving a car that's not towing a caravan, however, the reality is you're carying a far heavier and wider load than normal, and for this you'll need to adjust your driving style.
Accelerating, merging, overtaking, reversing and many other driving actions will feel different, even with a small caravan in tow. You'll be slower off the mark, need more time to overtake into wider gaps, and will need to navigate corners and hills more cautiously.
So just keep in mind, you're not a whippit but a slower and more steady caravanner that's totally cool with this new set of driving rules.
2. Lead foot who?
When you're towing a caravan, don't hit the accelerator and go hell-for-leather in any circumstance. Being a lead foot will put pressure on your tow-vehicle, from tyres to suspension, and may also impact the straight tracking of your caravan behind.
So when you start driving, or take off from the traffic lights, keep in mind that acceleration will always be slower and feel heavier than usual. And this is OK.
Once you're up to speed on the highway, also drive one gear lower than you would normally do. This will be kinder to your car and give you better traction on the roads.
3. I must give way, I must give way
When turning, overtaking or merging, if in doubt just repeat 'I must give way, I must give way'. Don't fight for spots if you're uncertain you won't make it in time.
And while you might be champing at the bit to overtake that dawdling Volvo ahead, always make sure you've checked around you and found a suitable gap with lots of clearance to merge into.
Remember, you're twice the length and far slower to accelerate than normal, so make sure the gap you find is also twice the length to the next car ahead, and you have time to get up to speed to pass.
4. I love my caravan's reflection
Checking your caravan in your rear safety mirrors is a regular habit you shoudn't feel vain getting into. Like normal driving, checking your mirrors often is necessary to prepare you for traffic changes and anything out of the ordinary. Besides extra mirrors, you may want to think about some other caravan accessories that improve safety as well.
The other important reason is so you can see how your caravan is tracking. Is it towing too far to the left or right? If it is, you will need to slow down and adjust it with small corrections until it's even.
5. When towing a caravan, watch out for trucks
When a truck passes, you may experience buffeting, causing your caravan to sway and also impacting your steering and confidence. The main thing here is to stay steady, steer straight – and don't oversteer in any circumstance.
The calmer and more controlled you are, the easier it will be making small, micro-corrections to your steering as each truck thunders by.
6. Smooth and steady wins the race
Be a smooth operator when you're towing - listen to some Sade if it helps you! The goal is to avoid constant gear changes, hard braking or fast acceleration, which can put pressure on your brakes, tyres, suspension and transmission, and cause your caravan to sway.
The smoother you drive the straigher your caravan will be, tracking perfectly behind you. Less braking and gear changes will also prevent wearing down of your tow-vehicle's parts, including brakes, tyres and suspension, and will also be more fuel-efficient.
And just for good measure also watch this great video on towing on the road, with step-by-step information on driving adjustments for towing.
Caravan towing safety should be paramount
With every move you make on the road, caravan towing safety should always be front and centre.
Drop those non-towing driving habits, trust your gut instinct and always apply the rules of caravan safety.
At every move, ask yourself 'Is it safe?' and if you can't answer yes, then it's best you stay put. Instead sit back and get into the caravanner mindset. Take the pace of your life one gear down, literally, and enjoy the steady, smooth ride of caravan towing so you can actually enjoy the journey.
Want to find out more about caravan towing, from loading your caravan to hitching it to your vehicle? Download our free ebook 10 steps to becoming a caravan towing pro.