Laws relating to towing of caravans

With summer having well and truly arrived, all those who enjoy caravanning holidays will be seizing the opportunity to get away and make the most of the good weather. 

Just as important as booking your site and stocking up the fridge; you must ensure your caravanning holiday is not ruined by falling foul of the regulations surrounding the towing of any trailers. 

Caravans are defined in road traffic legislation as a trailer in Section 185(1) of the 1988 Road Traffic Act. 

Chris Grainger, solicitor advocate with law firm Lanyon Bowdler comments “It is important to remember that when towing a caravan the speed limits which you are permitted to travel on British roads are 60mph on motorways or dual carriageways which are separated by a physical barrier, 50mph on single carriage unrestricted roads or as directed by the speed limits in force in that area.  No matter which type of caravan you choose you must always display the registration number of the towing vehicle at the rear.”

Over the years it has become increasingly complicated to work out the maximum weight of caravan you can tow.  This largely depends upon when you passed your driving test.

The towing vehicle’s handbook should always be checked for the maximum towing weight.  If you cannot find it, or are in doubt, check the VIN plate on your vehicle.  You will find this underneath the bonnet clearly displayed as a small metal plate or alternatively when you open the driver’s door.  It is very important to remember that if you cannot find a VIN plate on your vehicle then you must NOT use it for towing a caravan. 

Whatever combination of caravan and vehicle you choose it cannot exceed 7 metres in length. 

Safety is paramount which means that when towing any caravan if the trailer is wider than your towing vehicle you must, by law, fit suitable mirrors to be able to see down each side.  If you are stopped by a traffic officer without the regulation mirrors. you will be liable for prosecution, your licence can be endorsed and you may be fined up to £1,000.

It is also worth remembering that when drawing a trailer in excess of 750kg it must have a working braking system in place. 

Finally, for those of you who have succumbed to the fashion for large American trailers and caravans it is wise to check their suitability before embarking upon your holiday.  Many American caravans do not meet with EU Regulations. 

Chris Grainger concludes “As with many other aspects of motoring law, if in doubt - check it out and take advice before travelling.”

Section:

Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on petejwhite.com

Read More from Pete White