How to Overtake and be Overtaken in a Caravan

Date Posted: June 12, 2020

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Overtaking with a caravan (and being overtaken) can get pretty hectic. The dreaded caravan sway can make things extremely difficult and dangerous as caravans are super susceptible to wind. Most people have seen the holiday-ruining dashcam videos of when overtaking in caravans goes wrong.

Don’t end up with serious damage bills – or worse with these tips.

When overtaking with a caravan…

As most experts say: if you’re not 100% confident that you can overtake a slower vehicle safely, do not attempt to do it. Caravanners often simply pull over for a coffee break when stuck behind slow vehicles.

Make sure you know your towing vehicle’s acceleration and braking ability with a full-laden caravan entow. You’ll be able to judge your ability with more experience. A good idea is to start slow with short practice journeys to build up confidence and familiarity. Successful overtaking with a caravan requires experience.

Check that there are minimal or no crosswinds and the road conditions are safe. Wind turbulence can be unexpected and severe when towing caravans and cause dangerous caravan sway by upsetting balance. Roads need to be wide enough to allow sufficient room.

Don’t risk your vehicle, caravan and life to save a few minutes

When being overtaken with a caravan…

The first thing to remember is that a caravan’s extra width and height significantly reduce drivers’ visibility. Therefore, they (should) allow considerably more time and road length to get past you. Make sure to maintain a constant speed when being overtaken to allow the other driver to calculate their maneuver accurately.

Most highways in Australia take slower vehicles into consideration and provide parking bays and overtaking lanes. Always pull over and keep left where safe to allow vehicles behind you to get by. Remember trucks and commercial drivers are likely ‘at work’ and have deadlines to meet. Most drivers consider people towing caravans to be on holiday and having time to pull over for a moment to allow others to pass. 

Caravan Sway

Caravan sway is when a caravan snakes or veers in the opposite direction of the towing vehicle kind of like a pendulum effect. It builds up and becomes more common and dangerous at high speed. Caravan sway can cause a jack-knife rollover which often results in serious damage and injury.

Avoid this by packing heavy items as close as possible to the axles and never at the rear of a caravan. Make sure to inflate the caravan wheels correctly and the suspension is in proper, working condition. Entering slipstreams of other vehicles, especially large trucks is also a cause of sway. So maintain a safe distance at a safe speed.

If you encounter caravan sway, don’t panic. Steer as little as possible, quick steering makes it worse. Also, reduce acceleration and gently apply the brakes. Most caravans are ‘braked’ (meaning they have their own brakes) which helps reduce sway danger. 

All in All

It is always helpful to get tips for towing caravans to make sure your holidays are safe and fun-filled. Suspension, tyres, towing vehicles and the roads they traverse has all come a long way in terms of development in safety, design and durability.

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