Tip # 72 Safety Pitfalls of Towing, Medium Rigid License Required for Caravans?…

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 02:36
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On my Medium Rigid License, I got a few things drilled into me that make good sense on towing caravans. There is talk about making a special requirement for Caravan Owners towing… Mind you I doubt it will happen, too big of a voting block, but I am here to tell you that it would indeed save some lives…!!! The weight and speed and stopping distance with a van on the back is much the same with a heavy truck, in fact I think maybe it is not such a bad idea to increase the License requirement for towing, just for general safety. You just cannot get away with things in a truck like you might attempt with a van on the back. But when things get out of hand, is when serious problems occur.

Like your mirrors. You really should be watching your traffic behind you more than normal, like about twice as much… Many accidents are simply the impatience of someone behind you getting fed up, and passing you when they really should not have. And, that is one of the main gripes with Truckies and such, is against Caravaners for hogging the road slowing down traffic… You also won’t find yourself in a panic as two Road Trains Pass you… (Has happened)..

And down hills are another one… The real slow down should be before you get to the hill, not in a panic after you realize you are out of control and going too fast in the middle of the downhill run. You need to act more like a truck, and slow down before, and coast down on the engine, keeping the revs down in the safe range so you do not have to overheat your brakes… Many forget the van is on the back and start driving like they were in a passenger car…. They are already going to fast before they realize it is a long hill, and sometimes get into trouble… (Has happened)…

Passing distance is another issue, just like a truck, it takes a lot longer than you think… Until you are used to it, you have to remind yourself of just how much open road you need… (This is a real problem, and once you are in trouble it is often too late to get back out of the way)…

Pinching corners is something else you have to learn to handle… You have to swing wide on a turn just like a truck, as you will cut the corners as you turn and can hit something the tow vehicle cleared with ease… (Happens, even to me, and I tow more than most…)

And stopping distance, a big one… You need more room, and yes some idiot will pull in front of you and force you to create room again…. Relax, do it.. And yelling at him or muttering bad words will only hurt you with the release of unhealthy affects on your own metabolism…(speaking from experience) Learn to take it easy, and not get riled up… Yes the road is full of idiots… But there is nothing you can do about it.. So learn to live with it.. Air Horns? All I get with my Mack horns vent of my frustration, is the middle finger from those whom are too stupid to even know what they are doing wrong…

And Backing Up? You need help, or get out and look, to watch your Blind Side…. I installed back up cameras, but they often won’t help you on the blind side…

This is just a little reminder… Have a look at Tip # 21 on Towing Tips for Safety on the Highway… And also Tip # 54 “Towing Tips Off-road”. And be careful out there! It is the Highway that is dangerous, not the Bush!!

Just a Reminder from the Ranger… Be careful out there....!
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 03:54

Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 03:54
You mentioned "Mirrors" in the above and this has always been one of my pet hates, as a lot of caravaners found out when I was in the Victorian Highway Patrol many years ago.

The regulations require a good vision to the REAR of the vehicle, not just out to the side somewhere behind you.

What I and a number of other police at the time used to do is get the driver to walk to the back corner of the van on both sides, then while they are looking along the side of the van, ask them if they could see the vehicles mirrors. The answer was always no as that was the reason they had been pulled up, so out came the penalty notice book and a ticket was issued.

It is just a pity that more current day police don't enforce the regulations better.

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Follow Up By: Oldperc - Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 17:33

Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 17:33
well, that would have spoilt a holiday !!!!
I would have appreciated a friendly warning.
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Follow Up By: Mobi Condo - Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 17:49

Saturday, Nov 05, 2005 at 17:49
Yep, Having a heavy Bus, Truck lic, since 1970 and many highway miles with various trailers/vans in tow and about 8 years school bus driving on Eyre Peninsula SA, We MUST agree as we had the 10 second rotation drilled in - each ten seconds (on average) one scans all mirrors (including the interior one to see what the little bligh... oops sorry lovely passengers were up to) and instruments as we drove. Both of us have the same experience and even reckon that formal training would not be amiss!
We have our TRUCK style mirrors ready to go pick ours up next Wednesday - Yeeeaaaaaaah!
Cheers - Ian & Sally
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Reply By: Boystoy - Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 04:46

Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 04:46
Hi Steve & Brian,

A good post! Brian, what is the legal width for mirrors? I have limited the separation of my mirrors to just under 2.5m.
I use the camera on the back of the BT as preferred rear vision, and the towing mirrors mainly for road position of my rig.

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Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 08:26

Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 08:26
The maximum width of a vehicle without a permit is 2.5 metres, BUT this does not include the mirrors that can extend past that to give a view to rear. I am not aware of any maximum width of the mirrors.

The camera only gives distorted vision because of wide angle lenses and I don't believe allows you not to have correct rear vision mirrors. Cameras have only come into use since I left the force.
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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 18:23

Monday, Nov 07, 2005 at 18:23
Hello Neil,
Mirrors are exempt from the width regulations... They have to be outside the 2.5 Metres to see down the side... The old test, used by some Highway Patrol Officers, was to hold a hand out from the back corner of the van or truck...."How many fingers routine".... In other words your mirrors had to be far enough out to see clear past the back corner....

But any way, I am just trying to put little helpful education on this Website, for everyones benefit... The Courtesy of watching your mirrors, and when convenient pulling over to let traffic through, will not only enhance the poor image of Caravaner road hogs with the general public, but also save lives..... Many accidents are caused by impatience, road rage, and too hurried and dangerous of passing just because of some slow discourteous or unconscious person impeding traffic.... Others lose their tempers and pass dangerously... Hence the Tip, to improve our image and also travel safely... It is also for the ambulances, fire, police, and such that might be in a bigger hurry...

Here is a real time example, a new Lady Driver had a panic attack when two road trains overtook here at over 100kph.... She was happily driving along towing for the first time in the N.T. She was just getting the feel of things, carefully doing only 80kph.... The first Road Train panicked her, and the second right behind buffeted her off the road in a panic condition, and She hit a log and rolled over the van... If She had been watching her mirrors, she would have had ample time and warning to slow down, pull over and let them through... Or at least be aware of them coming... No one hurt, but it could have been far worse..

Instead of that: Watch the people acknowledge you with a friendly wave when you have pulled over and let them through!!! The Life you save may be your own..

Regards to all from the Ranger...
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