Looking to pass? How to safely overtake another caravan

Published: July 26, 2023

Grey nomad, Greg O’Brien, gives his tips on how to safely overtake a caravan when you’re towing a van yourself

We are often faced with overtaking another van for one reason or another.

But an overtake with a van on the back should not be taken lightly and there are a number of things that we need to think about, particularly if the vehicle we wish to overtake is another van or a road train.

  • Firstly, what speed is the vehicle we wish to overtake doing? If it is only slightly slower than our own speed, do we really need to overtake it or can we just settle back and enjoy the trip?
  • If we have definitely decided to overtake then we need to assess what the road is like. Does it have the width to safely overtake or are we going to end up running partly on the shoulder where the surface is of unknown quality. This could have a disastrous result if the shoulders are soft or rough, as it can end up with an overturned van.
  • Are there long enough straights that we can safely accelerate, pass and pull back in bearing in mind our vehicle’s very much reduced performance towing a van.
  • If the vehicle we are about to overtake might have a UHF radio, try to contact them to signal your intention to overtake when safe to do so, so that it is not going to be a surprise to them. Some people forget to keep an eye in their mirrors.
  • When into the overtaking manoeuvre, remember that the venturi effect of the two vans side by side can cause a little bit of instability in both rigs, so be ready for it. Once passed, ensure you are well clear of the overtaken vehicle and move back in. Often, if in UHF contact, they will tell you you are clear. Settle back to your cruising speed.

Overtaking with a van on the back should not be a large concern for a competent driver, but we still need to exercise a cautious approach to doing so, and the manoeuvre can be done without being a hair-raising experience to all concerned. Know your rig and its performance with the van attached and stay within its performance parameters and stay safe out there.

* Have you ever had a hairy moment while overtaking another caravan or a truck? Comment below.

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In 13 years of retirement travel totalling around 140,000klms I have only overtaken about 6 caravans & 3 trucks.
I travel at around 90klm per hour on highways.
Never had a “hairy moment”.

No hairy moments apart from being overtaken by other caravans doing about two kmh faster than my rig also being stuck behind a convoy of four vans nose to tail, chatting away on cb without a care in the world and only one brain between them .. and it was hibernating.


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