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The importance of caravan safety this December

The Christmas holiday season is in full swing, and with many hitting the road with caravans this month it’s essential to be aware of the dangers, laws, and critical safety measures that apply when towing a caravan.

Harveys Towing safety and compliance manager Bridie Gray said caravan rollovers were extremely common, particularly during the holiday period when many people travel with caravans.

“People will often put too much weight in the caravan itself, either in the front or back,” she said.

“As soon as it starts swaying you’re almost guaranteed the car is going with it as well, and unfortunately once your car rolls your chances of survival aren’t that great.”

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Photo by Izabela Mierzejewski on Unsplash

New Beith resident Deanne Schulz and her husband were involved in a serious caravan rollover accident four years ago and have shared their story with Park Ridge News to raise community awareness of caravan rollover dangers.

On October 7, 2017 the Schulz’s 80 series Landcruiser was pulled over by their caravan in the Cooroy area on the Bruce Highway, which sent them rolling twice into the median of the road.

“Our lives were spared but we did have quite significant injuries, which took almost two years to recover from,” Mrs Schulz said.

“My husband is a competent driver and has a lot of experience with towing, although it was only the third trip towing our caravan.”

Mrs Schulz said there were a number of factors that contributed to the rollover accident that day, including a wind tunnel that caused their caravan to sway uncontrollably from side to side.

“The drawbar then cracked and broke, allowing our vehicle and caravan to roll over twice,” she said.

Neither of them had any recollection of the time spent rolling until they found themselves sitting upright in their seatbelts.

“We were blessed with a paramedic at our side at just the needed time,” she said.

“There were other kind people who stopped that day to help us, including a man who gave the paramedic his black T-shirt to wrap up my broken and degloved forearm which had just begun to spurt blood, and which without immediate treatment could have been fatal.

“My husband had broken vertebrae in his spine and we both had head knocks.”

In hindsight, Mrs Schulz said perhaps they could have had more preparation for the possible dangers that can happen when towing a caravan.

“To gain knowledge of things that can occur and being prepared more thoroughly for towing our type of caravan may indeed have spared us this horrible accident, where now our lives have been affected and changed into the future,” she said.

Many caravan accidents occur on the highway when the vehicle is travelling too fast and the weight is incorrectly distributed.

Mrs Gray said factors that could contribute to caravan rollovers included speed, wind, the weight distribution in the caravan, and the type of vehicle towing the caravan.

“As soon as the caravan starts swaying generally most people don’t know how to handle that and what to do,” she said.

“If you can control it that’s your best bet; you need to slow down, don’t brake,” she said.

Mrs Gray said many people were unaware of the risks of using an incompetent vehicle to tow a caravan, and many fines are given around Christmas time for dangerous towing.

Regularly getting caravans serviced and repaired is also important for keeping yourself and other drivers safe on the road.

“We see a lot of tyres coming off caravans and axles braking, and that sort of thing,” Mrs Gray said.

To stay safe these holidays visit the following links for information about loading, servicing and towing caravans and trailers. 

RACQ: How to load your Caravan 

Transport & Main Roads: (Download) All about safe towing guide 2016.

Transport & Main Roads: Towing Vehicles and Trailers 

Transport & Main Roads: Vehicle Safety – Towing Equipment 

Transport & Main Roads: Long Trips

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Photo by Benjamin Zanatta on Unsplash