Congratulations from all at GAM to Dave who passed his advanced driving test this morning, 15th May 2019!
With another bank holiday on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.
Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience. By ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience.
With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that they have some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the summer months of May to September – a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.
Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.
Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.
- We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage
- The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law
- Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up
- A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is applies
- Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high – this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency
- Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast
Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says: “Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating. By getting the basic set-up
right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe.
“In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”
Congratulations from all at GAM to Amanda who passed her advanced driving test this morning, 2nd May 2019!
IAM RoadSmart has expressed its frustration that six years after calling for action, more than 11,000 drivers a year are still being legally allowed on the roads with 12 or more points on their licences.
The issue was brought back into the spotlight this month when Justin Madders, MP of Ellesmere Port and Neston, asked Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling how many holders of UK licences with 12 points or more have been allowed to continue driving.
The DVLA replied that as of 9 April 2019, the number of people with 12 penalty points or more who have an entitlement to drive is 11,105.
IAM RoadSmart first revealed the scale of the issue back in 2013 following a Freedom of Information request and subsequently met with the DVLA to discuss solutions.
Although six years ago there were 12,470 drivers with more than 12 points on their licences on the roads legally, IAM RoadSmart is still highly concerned that these numbers still run into five figures.
Despite proposing several ways to fix the issue of such an unacceptably high number of drivers holding licences legally after committing multiple driving offences, little obvious action appears to have been taken in the past six years.
Six years ago, IAM RoadSmart discussed a series of measures to tackle the issue with the DVLA:
- Where ‘exceptional hardship’ has been used as an excuse for not losing a licence, that the reason for this plea is recorded. Then the driver cannot use the same excuse twice
- The DVLA was due to introduce a new computer system which would allow courts to see past offences and reasons given
- The courts with the poorest records of not banning drivers who have over 12 points should be named and shamed
- Better training for magistrates and better sharing of information with DVLA.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said that while there is now better sharing of information between courts and the DVLA, many decisions on whether drivers should be banned are made by the courts without enough information from the DVLA – a process that needs to change urgently.
He said: “The DVLA told us they would sort this issue out years ago, and judging by the current numbers, it simply has not happened effectively enough. Licences need to be removed and drivers who have committed repeat offences encouraged to take remedial courses to bring home the impact of their behaviour and promote safer, more responsible driving behaviour in future.
“IAM RoadSmart calls on the DVLA to quickly extract all such cases manually and ask courts why there has been a non-disqualification on 12 or more points, so appropriate action can be taken to get irresponsible and dangerous drivers off our roads.”
Neil added: “Quite simply these are drivers who should be banned. Allowing them to continue to drive in all but exceptional circumstances not only undermines public trust in the well understood ‘four strikes and you’re out’ totting up method of driving punishments, it also put these motorists and other road users across the UK at greater risk.”
On Saturday 27th April, GAM Chairman, Graham Ranshaw, was awarded the prestigious Fred Welch Rose Bowl in recognition for all his work for IAM RoadSmart.
The trophy is awarded nationally to the car member who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, has contributed most to promoting the aims and objectives of IAM RoadSmart .
Congratulations from all at GAM to Andrew who passed his advanced driving test this afternoon, 26th April 2019, with a very well deserved F1rst!
Congratulations from all at GAM to Jason who passed his advanced driving test this morning, 26th April 2019!
Congratulations from all at GAM to Deborah who passed her advanced driving on 24th April 2019!
Congratulations from all at GAM to Cameron who passed his advanced driving test this morning, 16th April 2019!
Congratulations from all at GAM to Maria who passed her advanced driving test this morning, 14th April 2019, with a very well deserved F1rst!