As the December roads become congested with vehicles, bakkies, commercial vehicles and trailers, it is crucial to heed the advice from the Road Traffic Management Corporation.
Despite a 14% decrease in fatalities during the festive period from 2021/22 to 2022/23, the number remains unacceptably high at 1 560. Motorists are urged to travel responsibly, especially when towing trailers, boats or caravans, to prevent vehicle damage and accidents.
Dewald Ranft, the chairperson of the Motor Industry Workshop Association, provides essential tips for safe towing:
Proper trailer service
Ensure your trailer or caravan receives a thorough service from a competent and accredited repairer. Pay special attention to brakes, electrical connections, wheel bearings and tyres. Grease the wheel bearings if the trailer has been idle for an extended period.
Licence and legal requirements
Confirm that you have the correct tow license and that the weight of what you are towing complies with legal requirements. The AA offers information on licence codes, trailer weight and how to calculate the trailer-to-car weight ratio.
Factor in the cost of fuel and increased fuel consumption when towing. Towing roughly halves your normal distance per full tank, so plan your stops and budget for additional fuel expenses.
Speeding is a leading cause of accidents when towing. Be aware that the stopping distance is significantly longer when towing, so adjust your driving accordingly. Passing heavy vehicles can create a vortex affecting stability, so exercise caution.
Ensure proper weight distribution when loading a trailer. Placing over 40% of the load behind the axle makes the towed vehicle unstable. At least 60% of the weight should be in front of the axle to prevent accidents.
Safe towing equipment
When assisting a broken-down vehicle, use approved towing equipment such as towing bars and ropes. Avoid using a tow ball on the towing vehicle to tow another stranded vehicle, as it may break and cause potential hazards.
Remember, every festive season sees numerous road fatalities. You contribute to a safer and more enjoyable holiday season by towing responsibly and adhering to safety guidelines. Stay safe on the roads this December!
Source: Cathy Findley PR