Drivers have been warned about the dangers of towing caravans and trailers as the Easter holidays approach.
The Highways Agency and recovery services are bracing themselves for a spate of incidents over the coming weekend caused by motorists not taking proper care.
Last year in the North West there were almost 800 call-outs to vehicles which had come to grief while towing.
Only last week a caravan on the M6 came to rest in the central reservation between junctions 35 and 36, causing the motorway to be partially closed for more than an hour.
Andy Withington, the Highways Agency service delivery manager said: “Spring and summer are the peak seasons for towing-related incidents on our roads.
“Over Easter many people will be hitching up their caravans and trailers for the first time since autumn, so we’re asking them to take time to ensure they’re fit to tow before going on the road.
“Incidents involving towed vehicles can cause long delays for other road users as well as distress for anyone directly involved.
“Although high speed incidents involving towing can be serious, the majority of problems we see on our roads are breakdowns, which can be avoided with routine checks and maintenance.”
The Highways Agency revealed the main causes of towing incidents were overloading the caravan or trailer, a mismatch with the towing vehicle, tyres which have burst because they have not been checked or replaced where needed, and poor towing technique.
They advise anyone towing a caravan or trailer to carry out a final maintenance check before setting off – particularly if it has been left over the winter.
Other tips include paying particular attention to the condition and pressure of the tyres on both the towed and towing vehicle, checking loads in the towed and towing vehicle are secure, making sure the weight is evenly distributed and is not excessive and being aware of how towing affects the vehicle’s performance – particularly braking distances.
They also suggest using extended mirrors when towing wider trailers, such as caravans, to ensure clear and legal visibility of the trailer and of other vehicles on the road, checking they have an appropriate driving licence for the vehicle and trailer combination and having the proper breakdown cover in place.