The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says it will target motorists towing caravans and trailers with on-the-spot safety checks over the upcoming bank holiday weekend amid fears the boom in staycationing could result in a spike in inexperienced users and dangerous vehicles on the road.
The agency claims that around 17 per cent of all caravans are unsafe, based on roadside checks carried out in the last two years.
The warning comes as some 11 million Britons are predicted to hit the road between Friday and Monday, with the upturn in weather seeing many going on mini breaks, according to the RAC.
And with caravan, campervan and motorhome sales at record highs – as many Britons avoid overseas travel for a second summer in a row – the DVSA will likely have its work cut out with roadside checks.
Carry on camping – but only when it’s safe to do so: DVSA says it will be targeting caravan drivers this weekend with roadside checks to ensure their mobile homes are safe
The agency will be carrying out trailer and caravan safety checks as part of a targeted campaign of roadside stops on campers.
Previous roadside checks on some 2,282 caravans and trailers between September 2019 and January 2021 found that many experience problems with key safety features, such as illegal tyres, malfunction lights, breakaway cable problems and brake faults.
DVSA records show that around one in six caravans have a serious safety problem, while nearly two in five small trailers stopped at the roadside and checked showed dangerous issues.
The clampdown on potentially lethal tows comes seven years after three-year-old Freddie Hussey was killed when a trailer became unhitched as he walked near his home in Bristol in 2014.
DVSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, Mark Winn says: ‘DVSA’s priority is to help you keep your caravan or trailer safe to use on Britain’s roads.
‘It’s great to see caravans and trailers returning to the road but drivers who tow have a special responsibility to ensure they #towsafe4freddie.
‘Many caravans and trailers have been parked up over winter, so we’re urging drivers who are new to towing or haven’t towed for a while to carry out some simple checks. Our ask is, whatever you’re towing, make it SAFE.’
DVSA records show that around one in six caravans have a serious safety problem, while nearly two in five small trailers stopped at the roadside and checked showed dangerous issues
With a bank holiday heatwave on the horizon, the RAC says its prediction of 11million car leisure trips taking place between Friday and Monday might be short of the mark
The warning comes as an estimated 10.8million leisure trips will be taken by car over the bank holiday weekend.
Caravan and trailer checks recommended by DVSA
As well as carrying out roadside checks DVSA is urging drivers to carry out these simple ‘SAFE’ caravan and trailer checks:
• Service – get a free trailer safety check or visit your garage if needed
• Air in tyres – check pressure, tread depth, condition, and age
• Fit the breakaway cable or safety chain and check electrical connections and cables
• Examine lights, load and weight limit, mirrors and do the jockey wheel test
Drivers can check they are #towsafe4freddie at the Gov.uk website.
RAC figures – based on a survey of 1,100 UK licence holders – indicate drivers have firm plans to take around 7.2million trips to see friends and family between Friday and bank holiday Monday.
Saturday and the bank holiday itself are forecast to be busiest at 2 million separate journeys each day – and an extra 3.6 million are due to be taken at some point over the weekend by motorists who have not yet decided on which days they will be on the roads.
This suggests the weather is set to play a pivotal role in deciding just how much traffic congestion there is.
The research also shows the effect the reduction in Covid cases is having on motorists’ increasing confidence to drive longer distances to see friends and family.
Only one-in-ten drivers aren’t planning leisure trips over the weekend due to the pandemic, compared to 18 per cent over the early May bank holiday and 25 per cent over Easter.
The DVSA hinted its caravan and trailer clampdown would commence on Friday but also warned motorists that these roadside spot checks will be taking place across Britain for the entirety of the summer, as more people look to enjoy holidays closer to home during the pandemic.
DVSA says the roadside checks take around 20 minutes each. If a caravan or trailer isn’t safe, the driver will be unable to continue their journey until the defect is fixed, it said.
Auto Trader says views of online adverts for motorhomes have sky-rocketed by 148% and searches for caravans have increase by 117% year-on-year
Caravan, camper and motorhome sales continue to surge in 2021
Auto Trader, the nation’s biggest used-vehicle marketplace, revealed this week that data from its website shows page visits for motorhomes have sky-rocketed by 148 per cent year-on-year and searches for caravans have increase by 117 per cent in April 2021 compared to the same month in 2020.
A similar boom in campervan sales has also taken place in recent months.
Volkswagen Financial Services this week said that the number of Volkswagen California camper finance agreements has increased by 621 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the opening three months of 2020, as more Britons consider dual-purpose vehicles that can perform the daily chores but also take them on weekend trips away.
Both Auto Trader and VWFS also polled drivers about their summer holiday plans.
The former found that 62 per cent of Britons are planning a vacation somewhere in the UK, with 42 per cent heading to the countryside.
The latter found that 47 per cent are going to drive to a UK holiday destination this summer, with another 27 per cent saying they plan to drive overseas for a warm-weather break.
People under the age of 45 are significantly more likely to drive to their chosen holiday spots, both domestically and abroad, the VWFS data insights team found.
Volkswagen Financial Services say Volkswagen California finance agreements have increased by 621% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 as demand for campers booms in Britain
Erin Baker, Auto Trader’s editorial director, said: ‘More than two million people enjoy holidays in caravans and motorhomes each year in the UK – a figure that is set to rise this year due to the third wave of Covid-19 across the EU – so it’s no surprise those looking to own their own caravan or motorhome has increased.
‘Holidaymakers will have to be extra savvy though when planning their trips, as sites are set to sell out quickly.
‘Heavy congestion is likely when staycationers hit the roads around peak times, particularly the second May and August bank holidays and school summer holidays, so road trips should be planned in advance and scenic detours considered.’
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