POLICE in Australia have urged drivers to stay safe when towing heavy loads after a caravanner lost control while overtaking another vehicle, resulting in a spectacular rollover crash.
Dash cam footage released by the Queensland Police force shows the moment the driver of a Mitsubishi Pajero 4×4 (which was sold in the UK as the Mitsubishi Shogun) struggled to keep his vehicle on the tarmac after his caravan began to snake left and right.
As the clip shows, the spectacular accident began as the Mitsubishi was overtaking the camera vehicle.
The weaving becomes ever more extreme, up to the point the Pajero and the caravan roll over and come to a stop upside down by the side of the road.
Despite the suddenness and violence of the accident, Queensland Police said the 67-year old driver from southern Australia and the passenger in the Mitsubishi only sustained minor cuts and bruises in the crash.
While Australian road safety statistics don’t reveal how many accidents on the country’s roads were caused by drivers towing caravans or trailers, equivalent figures for the UK suggest they’re a rare occurrence in Britain. According to the Trailer and Towing Safety All-Party Parliamentary Group, there were 158 crashes involving caravans on UK roads in 2017 — or just 0.17% of the 93,125 reported accidents that occurred that year.
In May 2019 Highways England said there are “around 4,000 incidents [on UK roads] every year involving all forms of trailers”, which includes towed caravans.
To ensure caravan users are best prepared to tow their mobile homes to their holiday destinations, Highways England (which chairs the government’s National Towing Working Group) has published the following tips for caravan users to consider:
- Reduce the risk of inherent instability by making sure the outfit is correctly matched (car suitable for the caravan or trailer load) and that it’s correctly loaded, including very importantly that the nose weight is sufficient.
- Choose a car and caravan/ trailer with stability aids, but don’t rely on them to correct an inherently unstable outfit. They will, however, make a safe outfit safer still.
- Drive within the speed limits for towing – 60mph on a motorway unless signage state slower. Take particular care when going downhill and/or overtaking to ensure that speed does not build up excessively.
- Reduce speed if conditions are not favourable (e.g. crosswind). *When passing or being passed by large vehicles, maximise the separation between themselves and the caravan/trailer by using the available lane width (with due regard for vehicles in other lanes).
- If instability still occurs, do not brake, but instead ease off the accelerator and allow the speed to drop. Let the steering wheel twitch; do not try to steer against the motion of the car. Do not try to accelerate, to ‘pull the outfit straight’. This is likely to result in the return of instability at an even greater speed.
- Following an instability scare, check all possible contributory factors, and address any which are not optimum to ensure no re-occurrence.
Credit: Queensland Police via Storyful
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