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Experts warn caravanners of 4×4 instability

A road safety officer and former head of traffic policing at the Metropolitan Police has warned caravanners that they should be prepared to deal with handling issues if choosing a 4×4 to tow their caravan.

Speaking in the Western Mail, Kevin Delaney said that there could more caravan road accidents this summer as more and more caravanners choose powerful 4x4s for their towcars.

The IAM Motoring Trust road safety campaigner said caravanners should take into account that a 4×4 has a higher centre of gravity than conventional cars, meaning that it would be more likely to topple over in an emergency situation, which most motorists are not aware of.

Mr Delaney said: “In terms of traction and weight, the 4×4 is a very suitable vehicle for towing. But if anything goes wrong and that vehicle becomes unstable, there’s a greater chance that the vehicle will topple over. I think people aren’t sufficiently aware of that.

“People tend to feel much safer in an off-roader, and when something does go wrong they’re unprepared for it. Provided off-roaders are used sensibly, they’re not inherently dangerous. The difficulty is that a lot of people don’t understand the law about caravans, and some caravans are completely unroadworthy.”

Mr Delaney added that he often sees caravanners breaking the 60mph speed limit on the motorway. “I routinely drive on the M11 and find caravans going at 70mph, which is illegal and dangerous. When the caravan becomes dangerous because of the speed it sways about or begins to make the vehicle that’s towing it unstable,” he said.

“If you’re towing it in a Volvo estate, you will quickly start to feel the instability. If you’re towing the caravan in a 4×4, by the time you feel the instability it may be too late to slow down.”

In order to feel entirely secure, caravanners should take out full caravan insurance whether they are using an old car or a brand new 4×4 to tow. At Cover4Caravans it does not matter the age of your caravan or the age of the driver. Cover4Caravans’ caravan insurance policy can be taken out on a vehicle (and an owner) of any age and gives five years new for old cover.