As the school holidays approach, thousands of holidaymakers will be taking to the roads with a caravan, campervan or motorhome to make the most of the summer. With many of these vehicles sitting dormant over the winter months, it's important to take steps to reduce the risk of an accident occurring when out on the roads.
Here are our top tips for getting around safely in your caravan or motorhome this summer.
If your caravan or motorhome has had the winter off, it's worth carrying out a few pre-season checks to make sure it's all set for the open road.
Here are a few things to check:
- Tyres – check the condition of the tyres and make sure that they are pumped up to the correct pressure. Check for bulges, cracks or embedded objects and also check the treads. If tyres have been left flat for any length of time or if they are cracked or damaged then you should replace them.
- Bodywork – check the bodywork for any damage that may have been sustained over the winter. It's also a good idea to treat your motorhome to a wash, as removing dirt will help to protect the bodywork as well as show up any signs of damage.
- Lights – do a full check of your lights, including headlights, sidelights, indicators, tail lights and break lights. Make sure you have spare light bulbs.
- Damp – check the inside for any signs of damp. If you can smell damp then make sure you investigate where this is coming from. Check that the window and door seals are intact and working. Air the van out fully once you've dealt with any leaks.
- Servicing – book in a service before your first trip to make sure everything is ship-shape. Make sure that your tax, MOT and insurance are all up to date (if applicable).
- Utilities – if you have running water, check that the water systems are working properly and flush out the pipes and tanks. Also check that the electrics are working properly, that all wiring is in good order and that leisure batteries are also safe and working correctly.
- Fire safety – Make sure that your caravan or motorhome is equipped with at least one fire extinguisher and that this is in good working order. Also make sure that you have a fire blanket stowed somewhere close to hand if you intend to cook inside.
Safety on the Road
Re-familiarise yourself with driving your campervan or towing your caravan. Make sure you refresh on hooking everything up correctly and stowing the van's contents. Check you remember where all of the controls are and practice carrying out tricky manoeuvres.
It might be a good idea to go on a short 'test drive' before embarking on your first long trip to get back in the spin of things - You don't want to reach the motorway before realising you've forgotten your towing mirror!
Always drive at a speed that's comfortable for you and make sure you're familiar with the speed limit for your vehicle - this is likely to be lower than the speed limit for a car. Full details can be found on Gov.uk - speed limits.
Remember that larger, heavier vehicles take longer to stop – always allow yourself plenty of stopping distance and start breaking earlier than you would in a car. On the other hand, they also take longer to accelerate and can be slower going up hills. If you're driving on a single carriageway and have created a tailback, find a safe place to pull over to let other motorists past.
Allow extra room for cyclists and pedestrians and take care when going round corners. With a longer vehicle it's easy to clip the kerb or cut corners so make sure you give yourself plenty of room.
As many caravans and motorhomes are high sided vehicles, it's important to take extra care in windy conditions and adhere to any signs or warnings that have been issued.
Make sure you know the rules and recommendations on transporting passengers. Guidance on this can be found on Gov.uk - carriage of passengers in campervans.
If You Have a Road Accident
If you are injured in a road accident capture as many details at the accident scene as you're able to safely. If the accident wasn't your fault, then you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries and financial losses. Take photographs of the scene of the accident (if it's safe to do so) and write down contact details of any witnesses.
Our Personal Injury Solicitors can assess your claim free of charge to help you understand whether your claim has a reasonable chance of success. If we accept your claim, we would fully investigate the accident and collect evidence on your behalf, calculate how much compensation you should receive, arrange medical treatment and rehabilitation support, and begin litigation proceedings if necessary.
Most road accident claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.