Jackknifed caravan blocks highway. No one injured.

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caravan jackknife
A jackknifed caravan blocked the road on the Kuranda Range, between Kuranda and Cairns. PIC: Eddie Wickham

Two elderly people have escaped without injury after their car and caravan jackknifed on a notorious stretch of the Kennedy Highway in North Queensland.

Grey nomad Eddie Wickham captured this dramatic image shortly after yesterday’s accident on the Kuranda Range, between Kuranda and Cairns.

“It had been misting rain for several days and the road was slippery,” hje said. “There have been three crashes on the range road in the past few days.”

The Kennedy Highway heading up to the Tablelands was temporarily closed in both directions after the accident at the second overtaking lane from the bottom of the steep climb.

There have been a spate of caravan rollovers and accidents in recent weeks as more grey nomad and other travellers hit the road north.

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63 Responses to Jackknifed caravan blocks highway. No one injured.

  1. Not totally convinced that caravans should be weighing up to the closest to the tow vehicle as they are. Maybe tow weights need to be reconsidered in Australian Design Rules. Seen some what appear to be small tow vehicles towing what appear to be large vans. My van weighs 3200kg towed by an F250 but I have seen the exact same van being towed by a Landcruiser Prado. Tail can tend to wag the dog.

    • This van in the photo sure looks large compared to the vehicle.

    • Even best set up rigs can have problems in adverse conditions. I do agree that in this configuration the tow car should weigh more than the caravan. ESC could help keep van straight.

      • This story got my attention. Why, because just a few days before this accident, I travelled from Atherton to Ellis Beach along the Kennedy Highway. It was wet and foggy but I had confidence that the 2.8 tare van I was towing would stay just where I wanted it, behind me.
        I can tell you I’ve experienced what happens when your van starts to slide out of control to the left then to the right. I knew what jack-knifing was, I’d seen plenty of accidents after they happened and news reports on tv. Never did I think that at 85 kms on a slight curved 2 lane highway would things start to go wrong. All it took was someone to spill some diesel on a section of wet road. Simple as that. Yes I should have grabbed the thumb lever and put the vans brakes on. I didn’t because I was too busy trying to keep the ute and van from becoming my worst nightmare. I was lucky and managed to bring the ute and the van under control and safely stop. I danced back and forth over two lanes and luckily didn’t collide with other vehicles etc. The incident only lasted seconds but It felt like eternity. I can say that I never want to experience what happened to me ever again. So I did some research and had the Dexter anti sway system fitted. $1600.00. Never had another incident since. The agents for Dexter said the system applies the left or right brakes before you can blink an eye. I’ve been towing caravans, boats and trailers for many years and I see the need for these systems to be mandatory on caravans and heavy trailers. Some insurance companies even discount if anti sway is fitted.,

    • We are seasoned travellers, bought a larger van, loaded all our stuff in, got weighed, 400kg over!

    • Agreed, it’s crazy! They weight if some vans is too much for s light weight 4we or ute

    • In answer to a lot of these comments I have a 28′ caravan whi h I am pulling with top of the plie Toyota Land Cruiser and the van has anti sway bars fitted and they do a very good job oc stabalising the van BUT that does ot mean I can drive at a speed unsuitable for the road and conditions. I was driving a 32′ winniebago rig for which I had to obtain my MR licence. With this van I could have walked in, hitched up tbe car a d driven off with 50′ behind me. Something needs to be done to licence drivers who are driving big vehicles and yes I am also an advanced driver.
      Here’s to safer driving.

      • The, ” Top of the pile” Landcruiser means very little when it comes to overloading. It has less load carrying ability than most Thai utes. Eg Ford Ranger etc. From memory I think its rated at 750kg. You see most well heeled retirees add bar/ ,roof rack and some times a 12ft tinnie on top. It’s way over the limit.

    • Too true
      It pushed the car down the hill.

    • Couldn’t,t agree more .
      In the end ,the driver (Captain of the show ) is responsible .
      However some assistance is required for beginners be it compulsory or not . Maybe Automobile clubs could pick up the baton .
      So many times I hear the phrase ,” when I retire I,m gonna get a caravan and set off for a magic carpet ride .” Never even towed a 6 b 4 trailer before . I,m not knocking these folk BUT some thing needs to be done to help them get the gist of it all

    • We’ve travelled tens of thousands of kms.towing our small 5th wheeler and are constantly amazed at the overloaded vehicles towing caravans. Many caravanners would be unaware of their GVM and towing capacity of their vehicle .Boats on roofs, overpacked vans and towing vehicles are a danger on the road .We put our fully loaded 5th wheeler and towing vehicle on a public weighbridge recently..it was 500kgs under GVM.Why can’t roadside inspectors who weigh trucks also weigh vans and towing vehicles as well in interests of public safety

    • If the trailer on my truck was set up like a double bogey caravan it’d be uncontrollable, I’ve offer thought if it could be possible to have adjustable axles, wider apart whilst hauling, draws together when parking, making for a much safer journey.

  2. Agree with you Bob and also I think it’s all about speed – why do people have to go so fast – isn’t nomading meant to be a leisurely pass-time!

  3. Maybe the people selling caravans should be made to tell you that the caravans weight is non inclusive of 285kgs of water or what ever the capacity, 36kgs of gas, the weight of the awning and every other thing that has been fitted after there initial weighing.I have a mate that was just about to buy a well known off road caravan to go on his 200 series and when he added up what just was on van, the water and gas nearly took it over legal towing limits,yet he was assured he was ok by the dealer.People must be made aware that sometimes you are not getting the truth or the whole truth.What do they call it BUYER BEWARE. Cheers Stevo

    • Don’t trust any salesman do your own homework.

    • It is called duty of care. I believe that there will soon be a case in Townsville courts where a buyer is taking and well known van company to court over this very issue. The buyer informed the sales person what vehicle he had and was informed she will be right mate. It wasnt.

    • Car sales should also tell people about the weights a landcruiser filled with fuel long range tank bullbar towbar cant have anymore tham a driver and passenger in it yet you see them overloaded inside and a boat on the roof

  4. Very lucky not to many get out of a jack knife its quite a large van the main thing is know one was hurt

  5. I make no comment on this incident. I’m not sure if people towing a caravan should have a special licence to do so, however I do believe caravan and towing vehicles should somehow be matched via registration. This may be too difficult to implement but is worth consideration.

    • Well said Ken

    • I have said for years that there should be a license for towing a caravan no matter the size. They are all getting too big how much space does a couple really need. If you are touring this big country you should not need a van that is as big as some you see on the road after all you only need space to sleep and eat. We have spent lots of time in a small van and seen lots of Australia.

  6. Totally agree with Bob. Once upon a time the towed, had to be no more than the vehicle doing the towing. Having said that ,even if the van is no more than the towing vehicle, the height and length of the van has to be considered.Once a long van starts snaking around the weight is not the only thing to worry about. The leverage of a van that is longer than the vehicle takes over . There has to be a change in who is “Qualified” to drive some of these combinations.So many of these recent accidents may have been avoided with more driver training and better matching of van and vehicle.

    • Prior to manufacturers specifying towing weights it was actually legal to tow up to 1.5 times the tow vehicle weight.
      In most cases nowadays it’s less.
      Some of the combinations in the old days were ridiculous.
      It’s a lot safer now. It’s just more vehicles and we here more due to social media. Luckily the days of the Ford fairlane towing a tri axel van are gone

  7. Slippery conditions at the base of a steep hill. Sounds to me like the driver simply got caught out by the particular senario. Can happen to the best of us if we are not constantly alert and drive to the conditions.
    I also compete in motorsport as well as being a long term caravanner, and have witnessed many times, very good race drivers get caught out due to an unexpected change to grip levels or weather.

  8. Any business selling equipment that is said to be safety ie ESC and electric brakes should be made to ensure the purchaser knows what they have bought and how to use it. When traveling the blacktop I always dial the Redarc brake controller up to about 6 and have used only the caravan brakes twice to get ourselves out of trouble bought on by 1 collapsed road and 2 after being almost cleaned up by a young bonehead speeding driving straight at us. Not sure on the ESC as it only comes on once a critical situation has been reach and we haven’t reach that thanks to the Redarc.. Cheers

  9. We came up that stretch 1 hour prior, it was very slippery in places. We drove at 40 km and pulled into slow lanes when available. Some people were flying up and down both with and with out towing.

  10. Good commits Dave we all had to lean to drive a car but it seams we can just hook up a van and load it up and just go some thing goes wrong and they don’t know how to handle it, some mandatory training would be good, only a matter of time someone will be killed and thats going to be good.

  11. I think accidents happen and as long as everyone is ok that’s good .
    However if you think a f250 prevents accidents
    You are wrong mostly it’s inexperience and a lack of respect for conditions that cause these things you see Grey nomads doing the speed limit when there’s strong winds and slippery conditions I thought ther was no hurry to get were they are going way not have another night and stay safe

  12. Hmmm, are they triple bunks in the back? Family van?

    • It was not meant to be offensive but after travelling Australia for 41/2 years and watching young driver with limited time and large rigs travel at very fast speeds, on roads new to them never slowing down when it rains I believe this is a problem as well as over loaded rigs as others commented. I now that our was not Toyota Landcruiser 100 series 21.5 Millard van as they weighed.

  13. When road becomes slippery, drivers towing caravans should be alerted. Consequently driving speed should be reduced!
    By the way I’m still in Victoria. My brand new Jayco Journey was seriously damaged by low tree branch on a bitumen street in Brighton East! The caravan height = 3040mm.

  14. These are great usumptions but i think we should wait to the investigation is completed and the findings are put out there.

  15. Firstly I hope they are both OK.

    Look at the location of the dual wheels.
    Too far forward, and will cause nothing but grief.
    I traveled down the same road last August.
    My tow vehicle. LC 79 Ute.
    Basically the same weight as the Van.
    I took my time, and used the engine to do most of the breaking, and the trailer breaks were cycled in turn with the vehicle and trailer brakes, but I kept my speed down to a manageable speed.

    It’s a shame People get caught out towing, watching their dreams get destroyed.
    A hard lesson to learn

    • Well i have been in the industry for many years the only product is the andersen hitch with anti sway and the E2 fastaway with anti sway
      Yes around the $900 mark what price do you put on your life sick of the so called experts saying my van does not sway it happens in a split second regardless of your driving experience please listen and slow down

    • I agree centre axles on all heavy vans is a recipe for disaster.

      I come from a background of Heavy Haulage and Heavy cranes with industry leader Branmbles back in the day.

      So I know a thing or two about load moments. Towing a centre axle caravan combined with a poorly loaded van, speed and inadequate ball
      weight is a lit fuse.

      I have always towed with a manual Nissan Patrol and use the gear box as the brakes where I can. Even turning on the A/C is a help as a mini engine brake.

      Drive to the conditions, don’t worry about what is behind you, just rememember that towing any caravan can be dangerous due to the dynamics in force with the position of the towball in relation to the rear axle.

      Concentration is paramount in my opinion.

      • Great comment Leith…..

        The forces that come into play when towing a caravan are among the least understood and also the most underestimated. I came down that very same road not two days ago and it is a very challenging stretch, no matter how much towing experience you might have.

        I also come from a heavy haulage background and your advice about not worrying about what is behind you, is absolutely spot-on. Never, should anyone feel pressured into driving faster, just because he/she doesn’t want to hold up the traffic behind them.

        By the same token, never worry about what’s is in front of you. Just because you caught up to someone, doesn’t mean you have to blast your way past him to prove you have a more powerful vehicle.

        Let’s put our heads together and try to make all of us better drivers.

        Safe travels to all of you. Let’s try to remember: – it’s not a race. It’s a common destination.

  16. Hope the travellers are OK. What a shock! Wondering if they had sway bars? And wondering if sway bars are too tight does it cause issues?

  17. .. this looks very much like the make and style of the van off the highway near Tiaro last week. Hope its not an issue.

  18. I think we are all unanimous regards weights, combinations, experience etc…….. but then again I’m confident we are of the minority.
    I visit the weighbridge before our annual trip away, surprisingly on occasions I’m only just legal depending on our loads with spare wheels water etc..
    I have 3ton GVM VAN & a LC200 so only shake my head at some of the combinations I see and when you ask some the questions they can only give you a blank look.
    Scarey, and to think we are sharing the roads with so many “un-educated” caravanners. They’re aliken to the red P plater that knows more then any old codger or are a better driver then any truckie.

  19. every van should have esc fitted we weigh everything before loadinghave a 2 year old outback journey best money i ever spent have travelled over some shocking roads towed by a 100 series landcruiser by a female driver never has been out of shape esc is well worth the 1400 dollars

    • Terry if i am not mistaking ESC only kicks in once a critical sway has been detected

      • Unfortunately conditions on towing are forever changing . Whether (pardon the pun ) rain ,hail ,or sunshine if our van decides to go in a alternate direction by the grace of god we may be fortunate to save an accidental. However caravans now have anti sway and and automatic braking system designed to over come jack knifing and other issues your van may occur.
        As Martin Hall commented $1600 can save your life as well as some one im in on coming traffic.
        Drive safe an enjoy your life

  20. Those axles look a long way forward. May have been too light on the towball.

  21. Simply not enough brake on the van
    Driver error
    Nothing to do with weight of van and lets weigh vans
    That is all just rubbish

  22. I read Comments on caravan ‘accidents’. Caravanners post possible solutions to avoid these ‘accidents’ such as anti sway, load distribution devices, weight assessment laws etc.
    I too have been camping, caravanning, motorhoming all over Aus for almost 45 years and in that time I have seen tow vehicles and motor homes and huge trucks explode onto our less than good roads. All of these vehicles speed capabilities have increased to a level that is obscene and totally un-necessary.
    I generally keep my maximum speed at about 90kph and simply get blown away (occasionally abused) by these clowns as they overtake me and disappear into the sunset with their 2.5 tonne vehicles dragging overloaded 3 tonne+ caravans in excess of 110kph.
    So… slow down. How about a law that regulates the speed of articulated vehicles to a more sensible speed.
    I await the howls of self righteous outrage…….

    • Couldnt agree with you more trev WHY have they got to go so fast as if there,s know tomorrow, followed 2 vans a few months ago near manilla we were in our car at the time and could not pass the last van 110 kph and swinging all over the road, what must some people be thinking the happy hour perhaps?

    • Well said Trev. I survived losing a wheel on a van at 100kph due to negligent servicing. There are quite a few things that can go wrong and in my view too many people who tow are overconfident in both their abilities and the stability of their rig. Any slightly sub optimal conditions can therfore become life threatening particularly so at higher speeds.

  23. I have been put off buying many vans due high ball weight due van design. Puts excessive load on tow vehicle with problems for vehicle handling unddr cdrtain conditions. Excuse can be us dumb people dont know how to load cirrectly and high ball wt means wt distribution if incorrect dont matter so much?

  24. A friend brought a 5ver when to go & pick it up, he had too sign a piece of paper so the OWNER couldn’t get sued selling a over weight vehicle. They just want a sale, & don’t care.

  25. I have a Winnebago on a 2017 Iveco Daily truck and want to put in a UHF. Just wondering if someone has the same sort of set up that they can tell me the best place for the aerial – please note no bull bar on my truck. Many thanks Shez

  26. I was driving home from Sydney on the Hume Freeway doing 110 km/ hour and was passed by a van and l lost sight of it 10 minutes later.

  27. Thats it Trev…you’ve pretty well hit the nail on the head. Cheers.

    • Slow down you bloody idiots, most caravan owners dive too fast yes I am a caravan owner and never go over 85 km per hour, slow down, slow down,

  28. I am a Grey Nomad travelling around around our lovely
    Country and I agree with comments made about
    peoples loading they have a 3 ton cap caravan on the back of tow vehicle then they have a couple hundred kilo Boat on the roof of tow vehicle plus a 60to100kilo motor for the boat in the vehicle plus fuel plus safety equipment next thing they will want to put there house on the back

  29. Going for my bike licence there was a 10min DVD on safe riding anticipating hazards, braking negative steering etc. Should be the same type of thing for caravan traders to give to anyone who buys a van.

  30. I have driven the Kuranda range rd dozens of times in cars, buses, and trucks with no problem. People just drive to fast and then blame every thing else for their misfortune. It’s easy, slow down.

  31. One aspect of setting up a tow vehicle and caravan that’s often overlooked is the towball load. I’m fairly sure a Pajero doesn’t have enough towball download to tow the size of van in this incedent. Also I think drivers should have to complete a course and have their license endorsed to be able to tow a caravan. After years of driving heavy vehicles I have the knowledge and skills to tow my van safely in all conditions. Surely it’s time we ensure that all drivers have the necessary knowledge and skills for their own safety and comfort as well as that of other road users.

    • Think you will find that the vehicle in this accident is an Isuzu MIX not a Lake to.

      • Sorry damn predictive text. Car is an Isuzu MUX not a Pajero

        • MUX Tow limit 3 Tonne, tow ball mass limit, 300kg, and MUX has anti sway control.
          Suspect that van would be well over the tow limit – likely toward 3500kg fully laden, 1 water tank under axles the other forward of axles. Cannot see any WDH attached although image not clear. GVM of MUX 2750kg and that would of course include the unknown tow ball mass. so with a kerb weight of 2100kg the likely 3500kg family van appears to be an incompatible combination, seems likely the tail wagged the dog down the hill. However it may be possible that the road and conditions were worsened by say a diesel spill, oil residue etc.

  32. And as for those manufacturers that allow long heavy vans to be sold to mid size light weight tow vehicles,most of us will agree they ought be fully accountable for their products. The newbie gray nomad may be unaware of potential issues and whilst thats a serious issue requiring more work by authorities, the van manufacturer and or retailer must know of potential issues and must refuse to supply/release new van until and unless the tow vehicle is evaluated and considered entirely suitable.

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