But as families gear up for the Great British getaway, there is a call for new towers to ensure they know what they’re doing, with experts concerned that a lack of training and expertise could pose a road safety risk both to themselves and other road users.
The study of more than 3,000 UK adults carried out by Nissan, revealed that one in five towers in the UK have only taken up the pastime in the last six months.
Four out of ten of those surveyed and who tow caravans, trailers or boats, admit that they have never had training on how to do so safely.
One of the biggest areas of concern is drivers’ lack of knowledge on the towing capabilities of their vehicle, resulting in drivers buying and renting caravans their car doesn’t have the sufficient power and torque to tow.
The survey highlighted other issues too.
- Risks are heightened by the pressures ‘towers’ face from other road users.
- Over 40 per cent of those interviewed admit to having felt forced to take risks.
- Almost a quarter said they have had to speed up after being tailgated.
- More than one in ten have had to brake heavily.
- A further one in ten had to swerve due to other drivers’ lack of consideration.
Tim Shallcross, Head of Technical Policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: ‘With more ‘‘towers’’ than ever hitting the roads this summer, it is essential drivers are up to speed with road safety.
‘The results of the Nissan research highlight a key knowledge gap in towing legislation and safety guidelines. We encourage new and experienced ‘‘towers’’ to ensure they are correctly informed as to their vehicle’s towing capabilities and to follow essential safety guidelines which can be found on the Nissan website.’
Nissan 4×4 Manager, Rachael Gregory, added: ‘Choosing the right towing vehicle is fundamental to an enjoyable and safe towing experience. The most common error made by towers is in hitching overbearing loads. This is both illegal and dangerous.
‘Vehicles like the Nissan X-Trail deliver powerful torque which benefits drivers with maximum pulling power at low engine speeds and requires fewer gear shifts. This is of vital assistance to new ‘‘towers’’ offering greater manoeuvrability and overall control, especially in water-logged fields as many holiday makers are currently experiencing.’
In response to the research findings Nissan has launched a complimentary guide to towing, available at all Nissan dealerships nationwide. A number of free towing courses will also be hosted across the UK. Customers purchasing a Nissan X-Trail or Pathfinder between July 1 and September 30 are entitled to a free towing course. What’s more, Nissan is offering members of The Caravan Club a 16 per cent discount on its Nissan X-Trail and Pathfinder models.
Five key towing tips as recommended by Nissan and the Institute of Advanced Motorists are:
- Check you are legally allowed to tow. Requirements differ according to when your licence was issued.
- Know your towing limit as well as the maximum braked and unbraked towing weights. This can be found in your vehicle handbook.
- Know your limits. Speed is limited to 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways and 50 mph on single carriageways (unless otherwise stated).
- Allow more time and space for accelerating and braking, given the extra weight.
- When approaching an incline select a lower gear in good time. Going uphill, this provides extra power. Going down this reduces the strain on your vehicle’s brakes.
The good news is that there are still plenty of experienced drivers out there. Half of those who tow say they feel very confident and assured at the wheel, with a third holding a special licence.
There’s also a willingness to improve with half of those surveyed indicating that they would welcome a refresher course or new tips on how to tow safely and with confidence.