Drivers urged to tow the line this summer
As the main summer holiday season approaches, drivers who will be towing a caravan or trailer are being encouraged to pay particular attention to their tyres before setting off. The advice is being issued by not for profit organisation TyreSafe in a bid to help road users reach their destination safely.
“The summer months are normally the peak season for towing-related incidents on our roads, many of which are tyre related,” comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “However, by making some thorough safety checks as part of any travel preparations, many of these needless problems can be avoided.”
Figures from the Highways Agency reveal that in 2013 nearly 5,000 towing-related incidents occurred on its roads, with almost half of these happening between July and September. As one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, the South West region saw the highest number of summer towing incidents, accounting for more than a fifth of the UK’s total.
To minimise the risk of suffering a tyre-related towing problem, drivers are being advised to make a number of key safety checks on both their caravan or trailer and their towing vehicle.
Firstly, it’s essential that tyres are correctly inflated for the applied load. Tyres that are under-inflated are much more likely to overheat and suffer from a rapid failure which can lead to loss of control of the vehicle. Furthermore, any resulting debris left on the carriageway can prove extremely hazardous for other road users.
Details of correct pressures for caravans and trailers can be found by visiting here. Drivers should also remember that, when towing, pressures on the towing vehicle may need to be adjusted accordingly. Details of this can be found in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook.
Tyre tread depth should also be checked to ensure they exceed the UK’s legal minimum requirements of 1.6mm across the central three quarters around its entire circumference. This can be checked either with a calibrated tread depth gauge or very quickly using a 20p coin. Simply place a 20p coin in the main tread grooves of the tyre and, if the outer band of the coin is obscured, then the tyres should exceed the legal minimum. If the outer band is visible then the tyre tread depth may be low and should be inspected immediately by a tyre professional.
The final aspect drivers should pay attention to is the general condition of the tyres. Owners should look out for any signs of damage such as lumps, bulges, cuts, cracks or uneven wear. If any of these are present, the vehicle should be inspected by a tyre professional.
“When it comes to the summer, we most often think about caravans and trailer tents being towed but our useful advice should be applied equally to other towed vehicles as well,” continues Jackson. “For example, many boat and horse owners will also be hitching up their trailers and they should follow these same precautions to ensure they have a trouble-free journey.”