With the warm weather of summer upon us, drivers are once again taking to the road with additional loads in tow, including boats, jet-skis, and caravans. As driving with a trailer or caravan in tow differs in a variety of ways to driving load-free, there are a few important things to bear in mind.
Whether you’re towing a rowing boat to a regatta Saturday afternoon or planning to hit the road early to take out prime position at the boat ramp, here are three things you don’t want to overlook.
You may hold the keys to a 4X4, but that doesn’t mean you can safely tow any load behind your vehicle. It’s important to note that all vehicles have varying towing capacity, so check the load your car can tow. You can find this information in the Owner’s Manual or on the manufacturer’s website.
Large diesel-engine cars and 4x4s usually have a greater towing capacity than smaller vehicles, but keep in mind that your car’s capacity is reduced by its own load. Whether you have a full load of passengers or heavy items in the boot, be sure to take your vehicle’s own load into consideration.
Therefore, to make sure your load is within your vehicle’s capacity, you’ll need to check the weight of the item you’re planning to tow, as well as the trailer and your vehicle’s internal load.
The heavier the load the longer you’ll need to stop, so pay even closer attention to your speed and leave extra stopping room ahead of you when towing a load. To stop suddenly and safely, your brakes need to be in excellent working condition, so check your brakes and ensure they’re up to scratch too. Your brakes are your vehicle’s most important safety feature and not something that you want to overlook.
If your load is wider than your car, you’ll need to bear this in mind at all times, especially when passing another car or object, or driving through an opening. To increase your visibility of the road behind your load, consider investing in a pair of ‘towing mirrors’ that attach to your car’s mirrors. These mirrors provide a wider view and depending on the size of your load, could be mandatory.
Another consideration not to overlook is ensuring your trailer has enough clearance room when making wide turns, whether parking in a car park (make sure it has room to accommodate your trailer) or turning the corner at an intersection.
Accidents happen. If you’re involved in an accident when towing a load, it’s important to know what to do and what you’re covered for.
Generally, your car’s insurance will cover any damage caused by your trailer or the load. If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, it really is a wise move to get some before hitting the road with a load in tow. If you already have comprehensive insurance but you’re not 100% clear about what you’re covered for when towing a load, check with your insurer.
When it comes to property damage, for example hitting another car, be sure to stop and exchange details with any other parties involved. It’s also a good idea to take photos of all of the damaged vehicles and property before contacting your insurer to inform them.
If someone is injured in an accident, whether they’re in your car or another car, they may be entitled to make a personal injury claim through your car’s CTP insurance. On that same note, a person who isn’t in a car but is injured in connection with your vehicle or your load may also be able to make a claim. For example, they’re hit by your car or trailer, or if something comes off it and causes injury.
If you’re injured in an accident, it’s advisable to get experienced legal advice to know where you stand and also take note that time limits apply to all claims. At Claimify we provide free legal advice to help you understand exactly where you stand. Contact us here.