Stay On Track Outback | Do you really know it all?
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Do you really know it all?

When was the last time your driving skills were tested?

Have you ever towed a trailer of any kind?

Have you ever towed anything that weighs more than 750kgs?

Have you ever had to reverse a trailer?

Most of us get our licence around 17 years of age and can go a lifetime without being ever tested again.

There is no doubt that driving experience does increase our driving confidence and proficiency however, introducing a new element such as towing a caravan, camper or boat even with years ‘behind the wheel’ should not be taken lightly.  Coupled with various ailments, medical conditions and reduced mobility, flexibility and movement that may affect us as we age, we must be aware of our safety (and other road users) as we travel.

There is nearly always one ‘know it all’ at the shows ‘Stay on Track Outback’ attends and the team tries hard to convince them that confidence is one thing, skill is another.  As the famous proverb states we are “never too old to learn”.  Towing anything behind your vehicle not only adds length and weight but will affect the handling.  Consider upskilling – take a towing and/or 4WD course, join a caravanning or 4WD club and if nothing else, PRACTISE!

Some suggestions for practising with your new trailer (ie. van, camper, motorhome or other):

  1. Drive around an empty carpark: this provides a relatively safe environment without the pressure of other vehicles being around. Drive forward, backwards and perform turns – this will help you get a feel of the trailer and how it affects the handling of your vehicle.
  1. Drive around quiet suburban streets: again can provide a relatively safe environment without too many other road users around.
  1. Drive in different areas on roads of varying quality and condition: find some backroads, rural, hilly, winding, narrow, dirt, gravel or otherwise. It is very important to be skilled at handling varying road conditions because in the outback, roads can change quickly.
  1. Take some short trips – half day, overnight or other: before you set off on your holiday, take short trips with your trailer fully loaded. This will help you experience the true feel of your trailer and allow time for you to make adjustments before heading off on a longer trip.
  1. Leave your trailer on in the city/town where you live: what better way to get used to the dimensions of your vehicle and trailer than being able to negotiate city streets and peak hour traffic! Please be mindful that a certain level of confidence, knowledge of the dimensions and proficiency is required prior to tackling peak hour.
  1. Take a towing and/or 4WD courses: there are many reputable groups that conduct training. Consider taking a course and use your own vehicle and trailer.
  1. Join a caravan/camper/motorhome club: these groups can offer practical advice, social support and activities that may assist in your skill levels. Often organising day, weekend or longer trips, they are the perfect environment to feel safe by travelling with others on organised adventures.

Many of the crashes involving caravans (etc) occur within the first two weeks of leaving home and are the result of a ‘sway up’ in the trailer.  These crashes may be avoided by practising and being confident in your skills before heading outback where there will be hazards you may not be used to.

DON’T BE APATHETIC:

THE ONUS IS ON YOU TO ENSURE THAT YOU AS THE DRIVER CAN HANDLE YOUR VEHICLE AND TRAILER.

YOUR LIFE AND THOSE OF OTHERS IS IN YOUR HANDS!