Researching to find the right caravan for you
Keeping safe while towing and staying in a caravan is paramount. There are also some legal obligations that you should know about when it comes to caravan safety. Here’s a short guide to things you should consider.
Towing mirrors and cameras
The law states that caravanners should use mirrors that allow them to see clearly an area that is 4 metres wide from the side of their caravan and a distance of 20 metres behind the driver.
A caravan is significantly wider than a car, so even drivers of large 4x4s will have to fit towing mirrors, which generally fix onto existing car mirrors and can be attached in a number of ways, such as suction, strap and clamp. If you visit your local caravan dealer you should be able to try a few products to see which one suits you best.
Rear view cameras can also be fitted to provide a better view behind the caravan but these cannot be used as a replacement for towing mirrors.
Cameras can be useful when in heavy traffic, as they will provide a view of what’s directly behind the caravan. They work by fixing a camera to the rear of the caravan which transmit images, either via wires or wirelessly, to a screen at the front that the driver can view.
In a previous post we discussed the different types of locks that you can get for your caravan and how they can help reduce your insurance premiums. Hitch locks, wheels locks, security posts, and door and window locks will all help to ensure your van is more secure.
Extra number plate
This is one that many new caravanners forget until the last minute. You must get yourself an extra number plate to fix onto the back of your caravan as it will be obscuring the plate on your car. Unfortunately, a piece of cardboard with the number written on it stuck in the back window will not suffice. Branches of Halfords offer a number plate making service but you must remember to take your V5 Vehicle Registration Certificate and a proof of ID, such as a driving license or passport.
Noseweight refers to the downward force of the caravan’s coupling head on a car’s tow bar. The law states that this load must be not less than 4% of the permissible towable mass and not less than 25kg. If the load is too light, it can lead to caravan instability on the road.
Noseweight gauges can be used to measure this weight. Be sure to buy one that is British Standard approved so it keeps measuring accurately over time.
Carbon monoxide detectors
Most caravanners will use gas to cook with and heat their living space but they must be aware of the risks involved. All gas appliances produce small amounts of carbon monoxide but this can reach dangerous levels if, for example, your appliance isn’t installed properly or hasn’t been properly maintained. Bad ventilation or a blockage in the chimney or flue can also cause problems.
For this reason a carbon monoxide detector is advisable. These work by sounding an alarm when higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide are registered.