Caravan warning as staycation surge entices first-timers to hit the road
Caravan owners are at risk of penalty points or a fine if they travel too slowly causing a queue of five vehicles or more warns experts.
Quotezone.co.uk says caravan owners need to check how the rules of the road apply to their vehicles, especially if they are new to caravanning, or risk fines, penalty points and increased insurance premiums.
The Highway Code’s rule 169 asks slow moving vehicles to pull in when safe to do so and allow traffic to pass. Failure to pull over when there is a long queue of traffic behind can constitute an offence of inconsiderate driving, which can be punished with three to nine points on a driver’s licence and a fine of up to £5,000.
The insurance comparison experts say three points on a licence can add 5% to premiums, six points can add as much as 25%, and the increased costs remain until the points are spent, at least four years later.
While logjams might be unavoidable, simply pulling over and letting traffic pass when the opportunity arises should remove the risk of penalty points. But that’s not the only offence caravan lovers need to bear in mind.
While driving too slowly is not advised, speeding can also lead to fines and points – but newer caravan owners may be unaware that lower speed limits apply when they’re towing their caravans. On motorways and dual carriageways the maximum speed limit is 60mph when a caravan is hitched to the car, versus 70mph for vehicles that aren’t towing a caravan or trailer. Similarly, on single carriageways the maximum speed limit falls from 60mph to 50mph when a caravan is hitched to the vehicle.
Quotezone.co.uk highly recommends checking all caravan kit thoroughly before departure, as faulty equipment can prove costly. Inadequate tyres, for instance, can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and up to three penalty points per tyre.
It is also worth double checking the driving licence itself, as the loads and types of vehicles that can be pulled can differ depending on when the licence was issued and the category of that licence. For example, any drivers who passed their standard driving test for a car after 2013 will need an additional driving test to pull items weighing over 750kg.
Quotezone.co.uk’s warning to new caravan owners comes after the price comparison site recorded a 13% spike in demand for caravan insurance from January to May 2021, compared to the same time period in 2020.
Greg Wilson, founder of Quotezone.co.uk comments: “2021 has witnessed a boom in staycations as pandemic restrictions continue to limit foreign travel – creating a wave of first-time caravan owners eager to hit the road. Many new owners may not realise that caravans have different rules and risks on the road that come with manoeuvring a heavier vehicle.
“It’s worth spending time checking the Highway Code, making sure drivers are aware of all the specific caravan driving rules and safety checks before setting off – even a test run can help drivers familiarise themselves with the heavier load.
“Caravan insurance and breakdown cover aren’t legal requirements but they’re highly recommended, especially for drivers towing a caravan for the very first time. The insurance not only offers protection for you and other drivers whilst on the road, it can also cover possessions whilst parked and enjoying your holiday.
“Window locks, alarms, trackers and clamps can be bought relatively cheaply and can sometimes help to bring down insurance premiums. It’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for any reductions in your premium, for example if you have a high no claims bonus, have low mileage or are a member of a caravan club.”