September could see spike in caravan crashes in WA

Published: September 8, 2021
Caravan accidents

While grey nomads in several states are effectively ‘grounded’ by Covid lockdowns, there is no such restriction over in the west where record numbers of caravanners and motorhomers have been hitting the road.

Indeed, with so many ‘novices’ joining the ‘veterans’ on the open road, there is serious concern over a feared spike in the number of RV accidents.

These concerns are heightened by the fact that September is a notoriously bad month for caravan-related incidents.

RAC claims manager Glen Walker told Perth Now that the company’s statistics recorded a worrying 87 caravan-related incidents in September last year — the worst month on RAC record.

“There are more people out on the road and of course with our Covid lockdowns and people not being able to travel internationally, or more recently across Australia, people are investing in caravans,” he said. “More caravans on the road invariably means more propensity to having collisions, and I think the other thing is people not perhaps being prepared for towing their caravan and inexperience, as well.”

Perth Now reports that there has already been an estimated 50% jump in caravan collisions this year, and the number of holidaymakers on the road is only going to surge when the WA school holidays start on September 25.

Mr Walker emphasised the importance of being prepared in order for motorists to keep themselves and others safe.

“The first thing to do is actually think about your tow vehicle and its capacity and condition to tow,” Mr Walker said. “Then when you’re hitching up the caravan, really think about how you’re loading your caravan because that can make an absolute critical difference to the way the caravan tows behind you.”

Mr Walker encouraged drivers to practice towing a caravan before hitting the road.

“Caravanning is an extremely rewarding way to travel but it’s also very different to normal driving and can be dangerous if you’re inexperienced,” he told Perth Now. “So why not get a little bit of practice.”

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Terry George
4 months ago

Are weight distribution systems worth having.

Des
4 months ago
Reply to  Terry George

We travelled 11 years full time and for the first 5 yes had the weight distribution bars. We then decided after experiment that we would take off them. No different. They are very heavy and only adjust the weight of front of van to your car. Still get sway and sway when big vehicles met or pass you. After reading we purchased a friction control bar. Wonder. Held van, no wind sway. My wife also drove our 21ft van and rodeo 4 x 4 and we never even would know van on behind, so much lighter also

West Aussie Gold Finder
4 months ago
Reply to  Terry George

Definitely Terry. They should be made a legal attachment for towing. Not like the bloke who sold his through this forum/news advertising a year or so ago when he got ESC fitted. ESC is not weight distribution mate so get both.

Sundy & Cyclone
4 months ago

Yep, have to agree re- the “sway bars”, or as they should really be called “weight distribution hitches”. I think too much trust and expectation is put on them by new and inexperienced caravaners.
On our recent trip we were overtaken by 2 largish (tandems), vans being towed by Landcruisers on there way home from the “Birdsville Bash”. The first van over took with no problems but his mate, after getting passed us started a sway so we back off and crossed our fingers.
Fortunately it was a happy ending and they disappeared into the distance. The conversation over the 2 way was a little worrying though as the driver of the “swaying” van was heard to say how he was surprised that the “sway” had started because he thought he had balanced up the load over the weekend by using water from his from his front tank to even up the load and take some weight off the tow ball. ???????
His mate, thankfully set him straight re correctly loading the van.
We haven’t used W.D.H’s for over 18 years and have paid more attention to what is carried where in the and on the van and also the suspension and tyres on our Landcruiser.
So far it’s worked for us,
Cheers Sundy

Dave
4 months ago

Sway bars are NOT weight distribution devices. No wonder we are having accidents

Kiwi
4 months ago

Step 1:Tow vehicle and Caravan must match in terms of correct weight and power,and breaking ability
Step 2:Correct loading knowledge is an absolute essential
Step 3:External factors and the how to react and what to do
Step4:An open and non judgemental forum for those who want to
have answers to their questions
Step 5: A ” its ok to ask for help ” culture change

Ant
4 months ago

No matter how good or perfect your set up is or how perfect you load it down to the gram if you speed along you.ll end up upside down.
Back off a few km best decision you.ll ever make

Waylor
4 months ago

Seldom mentioned is leverage. A long gooseneck gives the caravan leverage over the towing vehicle and are quite often excess to necessity. A shortening of 50 – 100mm can make a remarkable difference to sway control. Some tow vehicles are not designed for good towing with long rear overhangs so it becomes doubly important to minimize tow coupling length.

David Elson
4 months ago

I reckon Kiwi nailed it in a few words. I think those with gooseneck set up may not agree with Waylor. The difference being the towing point is over the diff not off the rear of the vehicle.What ever set up you have it comes down to loading the correct vehicle/van set up correctly and monitor your speed to suit that set up. Load dis bars were never designed to stop the van from swaying.They should not lighten your steering.If anything a bit of weight up front is a good thing.Steering!!! control. That’s my experience and have towed big and small vans all over Australia covering 40 plus years.Have never lost control of my vehicle van set-up.

Waylor
4 months ago

Sorry David. Used the wrong terminology in my comment – should be tow bar tongue instead of gooseneck.!

David Elson
4 months ago

No probs Waylor. A lot of these so called 3.tonne towing vehicles are not suited for the job.Like you say. Some of these vehicles that are rated at 3t and more have the weight to far back. They put air bags above the diff housing and the leverage of weight on t/ball is bending the chassis at the wheel arch point.Simply have to big a van or to small a vehicle.Vehicle manufacturers and sales staff are contributing to a lot of vehicle/van combination problems.

Reg
4 months ago

I believe (know) that what Sundy and Cyclone say about sway bars being weight distribution devices is not correct. They are two different devices which do different jobs. Weight distribution devices level the load, which helps with steering, but have nothing to do with controlling sway You can even get sway bars to fit onto WDH made by Hayman Reece. I still have one. But Alko ESC has replaced the need for the sway bar attachment although Alko recommend leaving the sway bar attached to the WDH as it will help sway control. Most tows also now have ESC built in so safety is improving all round. This is turning into a great forum for helping those who need it so don’t think that because you have towed a van for 20 or more years gives you all the know how. We learn every day. Help each other and safe travels everyone. PS. I have had a Windsor (1979), Golf (1990), Jaycos 2003, 2005 and 2008, and my favourite La Vista (2013). and travelled way in excess of a million kms. No prangs yet, just hail, touch wood!! Drive slower thanyou need to.

Ted
4 months ago

Use a Reece weight distribution hitch and have always been to afraid to tow without it but will definitely experiment over the next few months. What i did do is shorten the tow hitch by cutting off approx 80 mm of the tube then re-drilled pin hole. This has helped reduced the lever action by bringing the van closer to the tug

Geoffrey Preston
4 months ago

The problem is people have no idea where 4×4 can tow, they do not know the ball is critical for the pajero and early pardo is 2.5 tonne.

Dave
4 months ago

If anyone out there is not sure of the difference between “Anti Sway Bars” and WD Bars,then i would say, you should get some tuition on how to hitch up and tow any size van.
This discussion shows that they are lots of people not sure of how to set up a van for safe towing. And where the hell did the word “TUG” come from. This is Australia. It’s a towing vehicle.

bill
4 months ago

just have small off road camper trailer,
Nissan patrol ,not over filled with gear ,just the basics.
have had no problems.

Reg
4 months ago

Posting this about Hayman Reese as it might be helpful for somebody. Cheers.

https://www.haymanreese.com.au/

Herby
4 months ago

Time to have a special licence for towing and a limit on speed. It’s absolutely insane that people can just tow a vehicle on an ordinary driver’s licence adding multiple tonnes to their load with no training or tests whatsoever. My wife and myself have been traveling in a modest 6 metre motorhome over the last 15 months and have lost count of the number of caravans that have overtaken us on the road at well over 110 km per hour. Hope it doesn’t take more crashes and deaths on the road for changes to be implemented which is usually the was legislation is developed!

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