top towing tips
you may well be thinking again about towing, following a change to the rules which means it will no longer be a requirement for drivers who passed their test after 1 january 1997 to take an additional test to have the 'b+e' categories added to their licence.
All drivers with full licences will be entitled to tow trailers until their licence expires. However, the combination of vehicle and trailer must not exceed a 'maximum authorised mass' ('MAM') of 8.25 tonnes.
Drivers, whatever their experience level, are being urged to put safety first on every towing journey.
Top towing tips
Here's a list of six basic tips relevant for anyone planning to tow a trailer, horse box or caravan.
Check your insurance: Most policies do cover you for third party when towing. However, assume nothing. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have the appropriate cover.
Check your breakdown cover: Most recovery companies won't cover a trailer unless it is specified in your contract. GEM Motoring Assist's award-winning breakdown recovery service does cover trailers and caravans.
Don't rush: Moving off needs more effort, slowing down and stopping takes a lot longer and bends need to be approached slowly and carefully. Many trailers, caravans and horseboxes, for example, are wider and taller than the towing vehicle, so take extra care with road positioning, especially when pulling over alongside kerbs, entering toll booths or refueling at petrol stations.
Leave extra room on bends: Trailers cut corners when you're turning, so always leave yourself extra room on corners and bends.
Anticipate: Know what the road is doing, and know what everyone else on the road is doing as well. If you see a car far ahead put its brakes on, start to slow down yourself, don't wait for the car directly in front to brake. With a loaded trailer you will not stop as quickly as you are used to, so leave plenty of space.
Know the rules: Be aware of the lower speed restrictions for trailers, and remember that when towing, you are not permitted in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three lanes or more.
Reverse with confidence: The first and foremost rule is slow and steady, as the faster you do it, the faster you can get into trouble. Find a big empty field or car park so you can quietly practice and make your own mistakes. To steer the trailer, remember that you need to move the wheel in the opposite direction to that if you were reversing the car with no trailer. This can be really tricky but practice makes perfect - the more you do it the more natural it becomes.