Police prioritise caravan safety as roads get busier

Published: March 26, 2021
Grey nomads and caravan safety

As we head towards the busy Easter holiday period in the middle of a domestic tourism boom, huge numbers of caravanners are expected to be on the roads in the next few weeks … and police are strongly pushing the safety message.

Caravan parks and camping areas are heavily booked and the pandemic effect means that many travellers will be new to towing, and others will be hitting the open road for the first time in a while.

In Victoria, police say they will be out and about ensuring that people towing caravans, trailers and camper trailers are doing so safely.

Ballarat and Moorabool Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Stuart Gale told the Ballarat Courier that people should be checking their vehicle before departing to ensure that everything is roadworthy – from chains to brakes and lights and that tyres and suspension are in a good condition.

“We will be intercepting vehicles to check caravans and if necessary weigh them to ensure compliance,” Senior Sergeant Gale said. “These things have been in storage for a long period of time so it’s about preparing for the trip as much as taking the trip.”

He told the Courier that he had particular concern about people travelling off main thoroughfares and travelling on unfamiliar and potentially unsealed roads.

“With everything full, people will be travelling off the grid more and looking at free camping sites and carrying more to do that,” he said. “My concern is that if people are going off the grid to camp, they will be carrying more weight because they still want all the creature comforts.

He said weight and weight distribution were absolutely critical.

“Make sure weight is distributed evenly and you don’t overload it so that it becomes unstable,” he said.

And Senior Sergeant Gale told the Courier that caravanners should remember to take regular breaks if travelling long distances, and to be courteous to other road users.

 “If there is traffic banking up behind you, use a turn-off or rest stop area and take a quick break to allow the traffic to flow past freely,” he said.

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Greg Larkens
9 months ago

A wonder how many drivers towing know that vehicle manufacturers have recommendations for towing with their vehicles. Toyota Prado 2020 owners manual recommends a weight distribution hitch and advises not to exceed the speed limits and never exceed 100kph when towing.

Greg 1
9 months ago
Reply to  Greg Larkens

Judging by the amount of times that the subject of legal weight limits comes up on various caravan forums, I would say not too many

John Heslin
9 months ago

Easter just highlights the ongoing problem. Forget about the stamped Tare weight on the van. When the van is “empty” i.e. please have tare weight checked for your real Ball and Axle GVM weights. Only them can you work out the payload you can carry. The revised tare weight should include the air con, spare tyres, gas bottles, TV, annex and poles, bike rake or any equipment you plan to include as part of the van and part of the tare. Most people will be very supposed as to what little payload you have left to carry water clothes etc.
Hesso

Trevor Ball
9 months ago

Only have to look at the amount of caravans on the Princes Hwy just out of Traralgon for a snapshot of vans that are not level and 50% don’t have extended mirrors etc. Crashes just waiting to happen and innocent people being injured or worse through arrogance or ignorance to the rules.

Steve
9 months ago

I never leave my van in the carport for more than one month if we aren’t planning to travel. I take it for a monthly tow around Canberra doing about 30 km to get parts moving etc etc. I also run aircon, water pump etc etc. that way I know long before we travel if the van has an issue.I always take the car and van over the weigh bridge before each trip, if I have changed my loading configuration. When doing this I check GVM, GCM, ATM as well as both axle weights. I tow with aTerritory diesel and the book has a sliding scale for towing speeds depending on van weight. Mine is 90 to 95 kph which also delivers my best fuel economy. I generally drive at 90 as not in a hurry and it makes for a more relaxing drive. So I’m very happy to be stopped for a check. Oh, I always keep my latest weights in the glove box in case I am stopped.

Martin Pearce
9 months ago

I purchased a 2nd hand van from a private seller in December 2020, and a month or so later ran it down to the nearest town 60Km away to have a new awning fitted and to put it over the weighbridge just to see where it sat. Horror. Even with no water in the tank, it was 200Kg over the GVM. Its a 2005 van and I don’t think it EVER met the plated tare and GVM (1200Kg/1500Kg). Its down getting a new axle, brakes, springs, wheels and tyres at a cost of over 30% of what I paid for it.
But at least I know it will be legal when I finally get it back!

Doug
9 months ago

Were dose this new vogue caravanner of not using WDH systems on vans come from.It is a responsibility to prepare your vehicles to use safely on roads, do drivers reaise the change that towing dose to the towing vehicle

Diane
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug

We always pull over off the road to let the traffic go by we are a big unit and f250 and big caravan and a wildtrak and trailer it’s just polite to do so but there are the nuisance ones who drive at the slowest pace and that’s worse for everyone

Bob
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug

WDH are part of the problem! People load their van up incorrectly and then put the WDH on the van to level it up without realising what stress they are imposing on the tow vehicle and van coupling
I found out from experience what happens with WDH ‘s . Called into a repairer in northern Qld and he showed me what was happening to the set-up replaced the coupling and upgraded the rear suspension and removed the WDH. Have not required them or used them since (20k plu) It is such a disgrace that the vehicle manufacturers promote the towing capacity / towball weight and then we find out that it really is not correctly engineered. By the way 1st vehicle was a D4 the changed to Aa LC200 both vehicle are rated to tow 3500kg with maximum 350kg ball weight yet the LC200 needed the rear suspension upgraded

Mark Bishop
9 months ago

Is there traffic banking up behind you. Well sorry I am not pulling over 30 min to have a rest stop. If the roads are built properly there should be adequate overtaking lanes and side areas to temporarily pull to the side to allow cars to go past. At the end of the day everybody needs to take their time.

Malcolm
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bishop

Thats part of the problem with that attitude Mark.

Diane
9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm

Agree

stephen Dove
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Bishop

Mark if you are hoding up traffic, pull over do the right thing,.

Ray
9 months ago
Reply to  stephen Dove

Personally I do ( and will continue to) make every effort to not hold up trucks going about their business. However, as for fellow caravanners behind me, I do not and will not be “instructed” by CB to pull over because they wish to pass. I usually respond by CB with ” cool your jets” you will pass us safely at the next passing lane or appropriate safe section on the road. I also remind such individuals it is speed limit, not a challenge . Also if you are in such a hurry, take a plane.

p.stevenson
9 months ago

Yes the sooner we have random roadside checks the better,and on both car and van.How many people do all of you see and talk to, that laugh and joke OH YA I AM over the limit and dont give a stuff. Well I tell you thats OK until one day they are hurtling towards you on the highway and it all turns to custard.Make sure the fines are heavy because they have a deadly weapon aimed at you. I can tell you from experience finding a pathway through a paddock of big gumtrees to get out of the way is something none of you need to have happen .Bring in some laws and enforce them today. Stevo.

Zol
9 months ago

Geez, reading some of these comments causes me concern. I thought mature aged folk would have learned some wisdom as they aged.

Most of us don’t drive at the maximum speed limit, and yes we have the legal right to do so, but come on guys what’s happened to common sense and courtesy? There will always be someone who wants to overtake just to be in front, so let them. Why aggravate them? There is enough agro on the road already without stirring the pot further.

Let us demonstrate our maturity by being sensible and courteous.

Ivan
9 months ago
Reply to  Zol

Well said Zol

Margaret
6 months ago
Reply to  Zol

I agree Zol thank you and it would be great if people would stop parking on top of each other and show respect and privacy as well as it’s only older people that are speeding in and out of camp grounds and caravan parks stop before you kill a child or old person and your kind cking up dust at people.
Before you set out learn caravan and camping etiquette and manners

Cusheze
9 months ago

I’m with you Zol. Well said!! I can’t improve on Zols comment :-))

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