By in Rules of the Road

Towing a Trailer or Caravan in the Winter

Towing in Winter

So far this month we’ve had glorious sunshine with nice dry roads, a staggering amount of rain which has not just made the roads wet but also in some places we’ve had flooding and of course we’ve also had some frost and ice. I have no doubt that as we progress into the year we will undoubtedly have some snow in places as well.

Winter is definitely here and this can change how you tow your trailer or caravan. So what do need to consider when getting your trailer or caravan ready to go in bad weather? The obvious thing to start with is how the weather and road conditions can affect the stopping distances. Normally the Highway Code would recommend a following distance of 2 seconds. To know whether you are at the correct distance you would pick a point on the side of the road say a lamp post or bollard and count 2 seconds. You can do this by saying “only a fool breaks the 2 second rule” or “1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi” (at a steady pace) when the vehicle in front of you passes it and if you reach the same spot before the other vehicle you are too close. This rule changes in the wet and on icy roads. In the wet the rule changes to a 4 second rule and in the ice or snow it grows dramatically to a 10 second rule. 

Undoubtedly you already drive as smoothly as you can but this is never more important than when there is snow or lumps of ice on the road. Your towing vehicle may be able to crush lumps of ice but this type of obstacle could be enough lift one side of your trailer or caravan so watch out for extra debris in the road.

Cornering and manoeuvring should be done earlier than normal and it is important to start to slow down well before bends as the wheels are still moving you should have more control. Try to keep you speed on bends constant ad with high gradient corners you may need to slow down to a crawl.

High winds can also be a problem during the winter so watch out for open areas where gusts could happen or when passing lorries. When passing lorries move away from slightly to counteract the gust effect.

When starting off on a journey be careful of your 1st initial pull as you may find that the wheels of the trailer or caravan may be pulling out of a divet or hole they may also be trying to pull over a lump of ice etc. This could cause the trailer to need more power to pull it out and then suddenly become free. So before you try to pull a trailer or caravan ensure the wheel are free to roll without any real problems. If it particularly wet or snow has fallen the wheels may have sunk. If this is the case keep you front wheels facing forward and move forward steadily. If the wheels start to spin let off the accelerator. If they spin too much and cannot get traction then place something under the wheel, stones, an old bit of carpet anything with a bit of grip. If you have nothing to use for grip you could always let some air out of your tyres to give you more surface grip. DO make sure you have a way of reflating them.

Remember to check your vehicle FLOWER:

F = Fuel – Have you got enough?

L = Lights – Are all the lights working properly?

O = Oil – Has been checked and topped up?

W = Water – Has the windscreen wash and coolant been topped up?

E = Electrics – Are all of the electrics working?

R = Rubber – Are your tyres in good condition and at the right level of pressure for the conditions?

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Tony has been involved in the driver training industry for the last 10 years. He is a fully qualified ADI and is a key member of the Road safety events team within Essex helping to raise awareness of the dangers on the road.

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