The subject of ‘what I can tow and can’t’ is often spoken about but it still seems that many people are still taking dangerous risks when towing. Now this could be that drivers are either unaware of their capabilities and/or their vehicle, or they are blatantly using a devil-may-care attitude and proceeding with what they wish to do and how they wish to do it. One of my pet peeves is when I see trailers being towed in lane three of the motorway, which is not permitted.
I have driven over over million miles so far and have towed on occasion trailers, boats, jet skis and caravans but would not profess to be any kind of expert by any means. What I would declare is that (after some experience) I now possess some common sense when it comes to towing. I have had trailer wheel bearings fail on dual carriageways and been low loaded to my destination and have learnt a couple of other things ‘the hard way’.
Towing is not easy and requires much more concentration than many drivers give it credit for and with a large (comparable) weight hanging off the rear of your tow vehicle many more factors must be taken into consideration upon every lane change, turn, roundabout and manoeuvre.
Drivers MUST make sure they know what they can tow, with what vehicle and licence. I passed my test before 1997 so I know I am permitted to tow a trailer larger than 750kg without a separate test, but how many people are aware of their permissions and how can police and highways officials tell when you took your test or whether you are competent to tow a trailer at all. Drivers should know their own licence; the government guide can be found here.
All drivers can find the towing capabilities of their vehicles in various places, the manual, on the internet and most reliably on the vehicle itself. Caravans and official trailers will also have their weight information stated on a plate for reference, so the information is out there. But if drivers are not comfortable towing then they shouldn’t. There are now many companies that will train drivers in how to tow safely whenever they passed their original driving test. I would recommend anyone who has never towed or not towed in a while to at least do some research before hooking up, if not a session or two with a towing instructor.
The reason for this mini-rant is last night the M56 in Cheshire had two lanes closed in rush hour due to what my rough calculation was an accident waiting to happen. I am glad that no-one was injured, and no huge damage was done, but I am sure that all the police, highways workers and the other road users in the area would have rather not become involved and delayed by the incident.
The Nissan X-Trail was towing a 4-wheel car trailer with a BMW X5 on top. A quick Google (other search engines are available!) I found that the Nissan can tow approx. 2000kgs, but the BMW is approx. 2150kgs alone, plus then the weight of the trailer, so it is in my mind a case of ‘the tail wagging the dog!’
My point here is simple, know your own capabilities and make the safety of you, your cargo and others the first, second and third priorities when towing.