Ron contributes his usual expertise to the caravan debate
Graham Forster really did let off steam last month. Caravan owners have always been his “bete noirs” he has an “instinctive loathing”. Whatever happened to ‘live and let live’, but at least, as a caravanner, I know where I stand.
I know it is not nice to be behind a large vehicle that it is difficult to see past, especially if you drive too close, but a caravan is no larger than most commercial vehicles. Like goods vehicles under 7.5 tonnes, caravans are limited to 50mph on single carriageway roads, (60 mph on dual carriageways) but that is not their fault. In my experience many caravanners push their luck by stretching those limits, as do many van drivers, but, because of those limits, both are in danger of irritating motorists with less constraints.
To suggest that caravans should have to pay road tax seems more like vindictiveness to me since taxing them would do nothing to stop them irritating Graham. Most caravans are only used a few times in a year and do a very low annual mileage, to impose a significant tax would be grossly unfair.
Graham thought that there should be constraints on the size of a caravan in relation to the towing vehicle and there are; the weight of any trailer that can be towed must not exceed that recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Except in the case of some specialist vehicles, which may include some 4x4s, this usually means something less than or equal to the unladen weight of the tow car. Whilst tow car weight is not a direct indication of its power, generally speaking larger cars have more power and most medium cars over 1600cc have more than sufficient power to pull a caravan, a 1.8 Ford Focus, which Graham felt was inadequate, develops 115hp, as much as some trucks and easily enough to pull a caravan at speeds up to and above any legal limit. His suggestion that caravanners should take a special driving test may have some merit and I believe that it is under consideration, but the case for it is not strong since caravans have a much better safety record than ‘solo’ cars and I doubt if such a test would result in caravans travelling any faster.
With regard to speed in general, I believe that the number of accidents and the number of fatalities on our roads is far too high and that travelling too fast is a major factor in influencing that number. Whilst speeding may not necessarily be the cause of all accidents, although undoubtedly it is the cause of some, it certainly is a factor that influences the severity of injuries resulting from any form of collision, I support the use of speed limits and their enforcement, as I think, does Graham.
I remember that Graham has written before on related matters, he has complained about the general difficulty of overtaking on our single carriageway roads, indicating perhaps some lack of patience, so it is not surprising that he should resent caravans, perhaps he should relax a little, then he could enjoy his driving more. Of course if we did have more dual carriageway roads the caravanners would be just as pleased as Graham and pleased to be able to let him roar by.