Caravan and camper trailer safety

What to consider before you hit the road.

Road safety campaign

More Queenslanders than ever are hitching up the caravan or camper trailer for a holiday in our own backyard.

Whether you’re a seasoned caravanner or have just purchased your first rig, there are many things to consider before you hit the road.

Lighten the load

It’s important to load the caravan correctly so that it tows well. When packing a caravan for the first time, check that its ATM and ball load is not exceeded and that you comply with all tow vehicle and tow bar specifications.

You can improve your towing experience by:

  • Keeping the caravan’s centre of gravity low by putting heavy items near the floor and, where possible, over the axle.
  • Balancing out the load by storing portable equipment on the opposite side to heavier fixtures such the fridge and stove.
  • Removing unnecessary items and use lightweight items where possible to reduce the caravan’s weight. This will also save on fuel.

Final checks

Before you hit the road, take a couple of minutes to go through your pre-towing checklist. It’s tempting to skip it when you’re in a hurry but spending a few minutes before setting off will ensure you’re safe on the road.

Your pre-towing checklist should ensure:

  • Safety chains are attached.
  • Windows and hatches are closed.
  • Brake coupling/wiring is connected.
  • Light wiring has been connected to the car and all lights are working.
  • Tyres are in good condition and pressures of car and van tyres are correct and suitable for the load.
  • The windscreen has been cleaned and extended towing mirrors have been fitted where required and have been properly adjusted.
  • Gas is off and fridge is turned over to 12v supply if fitted.

On the road

When you hitch up the caravan or your camper trailer your vehicle becomes much heavier, wider, longer and taller. It will also become much harder to move, stop and change direction.

Allow extra space and time for all manoeuvres, particularly braking and acceleration, and take care when overtaking to account for the extra time needed, as well as the increased length of your vehicle and caravan. 

After travelling a few kilometres, it’s a good idea to stop and check that everything is secure, inside and out.

Take care when pulling up to a kerb as your caravan is taller and wider than your car and may hit branches or signs that your car by itself would miss. 

You should always consider the legal speed limit, road conditions, the power of the towing vehicle, the driver’s experience and any speed limits recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Check out RACQ’s comprehensive guide to towing a caravan.