Would compulsory towing training help or harm the caravan industry?
The DVSA (Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency) is currently undertaking a survey on towing safety and training. Will the results show that there should be mandatory training to tow a trailer or caravan, and would that help or harm the caravan industry?
I won’t be surprised if the results show that most people towing have never had any professional training. I’ve been towing caravans for over 30 years, and am very confident, but I’ve never had any training – other than growing up with lots of caravan holidays. I don’t even remember my Dad taking me out for any towing practice, but having seen him tow caravans all over Europe, it just seemed like a perfectly natural thing for me to do.
If it was practical to introduce compulsory towing tests, it could create a barrier to entry that the caravan industry probably won’t welcome (especially if the cost of taking the test was prohibitive, etc.).
I would always recommend anyone new to caravanning takes one of the highly respected towing courses available from organisations like the Caravan and Motorhome Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club, or other independent companies; but making them compulsory is another matter. It would definitely be a logistical challenge that there may not have the capacity for at the moment, but what benefits could there be?
Would towing training reduce the sort of accidents involving caravans that put people off towing? I always cringe when I hear a traffic report about an overturned caravan as it’s such bad publicity for caravanning and must reinforce people’s fears about towing a caravan in the first place.
Some of the questions and answers about towing I’ve seen on social media platforms prove there is definitely a lack of knowledge out there that is sometimes quite terrifying.
The spot checks on caravans and trailers that the Police do during the summer season show there are some unsafe vehicles out there. Although the majority of caravans are safe and well maintained, the evidence generated from these Police checks could be all the authorities need to justify enforcing some towing training or MOTs for caravans (as other countries have).
It’s well known that a lot of people find the thought of towing intimidating, yet most discover it’s much easier than anticipated once they’ve tried it.
The caravan industry needs more people to be more confident to tow. Imagine if everyone had to experience towing as part of the driving test; maybe that would create a bigger pool of potential future caravanners.
My daughter is learning to drive at the moment and is sometimes a bit overwhelmed by everything she’s having to master and says she is in awe of how I drive large motorhomes and tow caravans. When she has built-up her confidence (and mastered hill starts and roundabouts!), I am desperate to show her that towing is something else she can do.
In the meantime, if the caravan industry doesn’t want towing tests to become law, does it need to do more to promote towing safety? Maybe a towing guide on a website isn’t enough these days. The annual towcar competitions show that most of today’s cars are proficient at towing, but it is the potential for user error through lack of knowledge that probably causes most problems.
There is clearly a lot of PR potential and content that could be created for a manufacturer or the industry as a whole by creating an event or campaign to show how to tow safely. Anything that improves people’s knowledge about how to tow safely has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?
In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to complete the DVSA’s survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Trailertrainingandsafetowingsurvey/