As caravan sales soar, research reveals over 60% of motorists don’t know the rules of the road – from speed limits to weight restrictions, resulting in a fine of up to £1,000

Those considering purchasing a caravan could be invalidating their insurance – as over half don’t know if they’re covered.

Over a third of motorists admit driving behind a caravan makes them feel unsafe.

As a growing number of countries are added to the UK quarantine list, sales and rentals of motorhomes are on the rise, as drivers desperate for a break seek out a holiday on wheels.

In addition to this, Uswitch found that Google searches around towing a caravan soared this summer are soaring this summer, with over 26,000 entries and an increase of 65% in comparison to July and August 2019.

The surge in searches reveals puzzled drivers are keen to find out how to attach a caravan to their car, the maximum weight capacity, and most importantly how to drive safely when towing a caravan.

To find out more, they asked over 1,364 UK motorists to reveal how much they really know about the topic, with over 50% at risk of invalidating their insurance and increasing their risk of an accident.

How do you hitch a caravan to your car?

It seems like this is a popular question right now, receiving over 9,000 Google searches in June and July this year. From our survey, 60.10 per cent revealed they would have no idea how to safely hitch a caravan to their car, with 46.56 per cent of male drivers admitting they’re a lack of confidence.

If you’re unsure, we suggest asking a professional to demonstrate how to couple a caravan to a tow vehicle. This is important for both new and experienced caravanners because equipment can change over time. Practising several times before you head out on a long journey is also a good idea as hitching up your caravan is a tricky task – and safety definitely needs to come first.

You will also need to make sure your car and caravan are roadworthy with regards to their mechanical condition e.g. lights, tyres, brakes, number plates, and mirrors.

You must be able to see clearly down both sides of your caravan and 4 metres either side at a distance of 20 metres behind the caravan. This means you will need to fit extension towing mirrors, otherwise you could receive a £1,000 fine, three points on your license and risk invalidating your insurance if involved in a road incident.

It’s also a legal requirement for vehicle registration plates to be visible on your caravan or trailer, too, or again, you could be fined or face penalty points.

Do you know the weight restrictions for towing a caravan?

When it comes to the laws on towing a caravan, did you know if you obtained your license after 1997 different rules apply? It turns out neither did 56.94 per cent of the motorists we surveyed, suggesting Brits could be at risk of breaking the law and invalidating their insurance.

According to the RAC, if you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM.

You can also tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg. For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.

However, if you passed your driving test before January 1997 you’re generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25kg MAM, meaning you’re slightly less restricted.

If your caravan or trailer doesn’t meet the legal weight capacity, you could invalidate your insurance and receive up to six points on your license.

Do you know the speed limits?

Questions on caravan speed limits are up by 182 per cent right now, with over 5,000 drivers hitting up Google to find out how to drive safely whilst towing a trailer.

Alongside this, 51.64 per cent of drivers admitted they are clueless when it comes to the speed restrictions, with female drivers (65.47 per cent) more uncertain than men.

Interestingly, older drivers are less confident overall, with 57.12 per cent of those over 55 revealing they don’t know the legal speed limits, in comparison to 40.23 per cent of those age 16 to 24.

As you’d expect, the speed limits whilst towing a trailer are notably lower than restrictions for other vehicles: 1. 60mph - motorways and dual carriageways 2. 50mph - single carriageways 3. 30mph - built up areas Also, whilst over half of drivers (51.45 per cent) are unaware of this, when on the motorway, a car towing a caravan is not permitted to use the right-hand lane and must stay to the left where possible.

How does the weather affect your safety?

Driving in bad weather conditions can be difficult, but when towing a caravan, it can also be dangerous.

As the UK is known for having unpredictable weather, we wanted to find out how confident drivers feel when caravans are on the road.

Our survey revealed that 62.10 per cent of drivers would feel unsafe towing a caravan in windy conditions, whilst over a third (37.81 per cent) of drivers don’t feel safe driving behind or alongside a caravan on the motorway.

Google search data also supports this claim, with queries around how to tow a caravan in strong wind rising by 120 per cent in the last month.

Whilst it may sound obvious, the first thing to consider during windy conditions is whether you actually think it's safe to travel.

If you’re on a staycation, many sites will let you stay another night if it's not too busy, not to mention it's a good excuse to prolong your holiday.

However, if you do believe that you can brave the gusty winds and travel forth, then it is a good idea to tow your caravan to a less exposed location. This should be done nice and early before the winds are due to descend.

Other basic precautions include making your caravan more wind-resistant by placing heavy items on the floor of the caravan to weigh it down and using storm straps to pin the caravan down.

Does your insurance cover you to tow a caravan?

Before you even start planning your journey, if you’ve recently bought a caravan or motorhome you need to ensure your insurance covers you.

Over half of UK motorists (53.59 per cent) don’t know whether their car insurance covers them to tow a trailer, and if this applies to you it’s worth giving your provider a call.

Whilst most car insurance policies will cover your vehicle while towing a caravan, they are unlikely to cover damage to your caravan in the event of a collision. Do check, but you'll probably find that caravans are specifically excluded in the policy.

Uswitch car insurance expert, Florence Codjoe, says: “If you’re one of the many drivers thinking of renting or buying a motorhome this year, it’s important you know what level of cover your insurance offers.

“It’s also essential you are aware of the weight restrictions, speed limits, and safety regulations before commit to a purchase. If you fail to comply and are involved in an accident, you are unlikely to be covered by your insurance provider and could face a fine, along with points on your licence.”