Safety is by far the most important consideration when towing a camper trailer. You must have sufficient power available to accelerate at a reasonable rate, and be able to maintain a reasonable speed when climbing hills. It is vital that you’re able to accelerate quickly to get out of trouble and, especially, to avoid completely any chance of getting into trouble when overtaking
The key rule, and by far the most important, is that if you are not 100 percent confident that you can safely overtake a slower vehicle, do not attempt to do so.
The second most important consideration is that the driver must have a good appreciation of the acceleration performance of their tow-vehicle when towing anything.
The third most important aspect is that the driver must have a good appreciation of the handling and stability performance of their tow-vehicle and camper trailer combination when a lane-change manoeuvre is undertaken.
If you commit to overtake, ensure that you do it safely, without having to exceed the speed limit, or at such a high speed that the camper trailer becomes dangerously unstable. It is highly preferable that the driver of the vehicle being overtaken understands your wish to overtake and, hopefully, reduces their speed to assist.
If their vehicle – a truck or something similar – has a CB radio call-sign on its rear, and you also have a CB radio, it is advisable to alert them of your intention. Be extremely careful, and double-check the road ahead to ensure you have sufficient distance of clear road to safely overtake.
However, do not rely on the turn signals of the vehicle being overtaken, as a “safe to overtake” signal.
When committing to the manoeuvre, do not swerve sharply into the right lane, or sharply back into the left lane, as this may well induce a hazardous sway, possibly ending in a dangerous “jack-knife”.
When being overtaken, you must consider the other party, and realise that speeding-up in such a situation will not only risk lives, but may very well lead the other party to extreme frustration and an even more-dangerous effort to pass you.
As a courtesy, you should gently slow down, to make the over-taking safer.
Of course, if the overtaking driver has made a serious error of judgment, and is in a hazardous situation, it is imperative to brake heavily, to better-allow the driver to quickly cut back in front of you, so as to avoid a lethal head-on collision. It is important – before you set off on a trip – to ensure that the ‘van brakes are operating efficiently.
Disclaimer: This information is provided in good faith, in an effort to improve road safety. It is believed to be correct, but no liability whatsoever is accepted for any issues arising from using this information.
For more detail, contact the Australian Road Safety Foundation or the Department of Road Safety in your state.
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