We’ve all seen examples of bad towing on the motorway or dual carriageway, but with luck you’ve never experienced a towing-related accident. Unfortunately, though, these are becoming all too frequent.
The reason for this is that many of us just don’t realise how dangerous towing can be. So in a bid to raise awareness of the safety risks involved and the importance of ensuring you are towing safely, the Highways Agency has launched a new safety DVD, Fit to Tow , presented by TV personality Carol Smillie.
As with many things, prevention is the best cure and so this short film aims to prevent more incidents involving vehicles towing caravans or trailers. These accounted for 43 fatalities and 1,400 injuries on England’s roads in 2006.
The DVD features practical demonstrations on how to correctly attach a trailer or caravan, how to maintain it and what to check for to ensure it is safe to tow before you go.
As well as this the film features advice on how to prepare your trailer or caravan safely for a journey, speed limits, licensing, breakdown recovery and how to plan your journey before you set out.
TV favourite and presenter of Fit to Tow Carol Smillie says: “I was amazed when I discovered just how many towing-related incidents occurred on England’s roads and how many fatalities and injuries resulted from them, not to mention the disruption they can cause.
When incidents do occur on motorways and major A roads, they often result in lanes being closed for extended period of time while vehicles and trailers are recovered and debris is cleared from the carriageway.
The Highways Agency’s technical adviser, Roger Wright, says: “We are urging road users not to take their caravan, trailer or horse trailer out on the road without a proper maintenance check, especially if it has been left standing for most of the year. With a simple once-over before you set off, you could avoid breaking down and delaying not only your journey but other road users as well.”
Those who transport live animals in trailers need to pay particular heed, according to the agency. Having a live animal on board can complicate matters further when dealing with a broken down or damaged vehicle. Animals, and in particular horses, are easily spooked and there is the risk that they could jump over the central reservation into moving traffic on the opposite carriageway, posing a serious risk to motorists. For safety reasons, it is sometimes necessary to close whole motorways while horses are sedated and transferred into alternative trailers.
Sheila Hardy, senior executive of safety for the British Horse Society, who welcomed the Fit to Tow DVD, says: “Working in partnership with the British Horse Society has offered additional emphasis to a message that they have been giving for the past 10 years to all who tow horse trailers – you need to have a B+E licence to do so. We hope through this initiative, the message will be spread to all drivers.”