Tow­ing tips for a safer road jour­ney

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

On av­er­age, seven peo­ple are killed and 45 se­ri­ously in­jured each year in New Zealand as a re­sult of crashes in­volv­ing a light ve­hi­cle tow­ing a trailer, says the NZ Trans­port Agency (NZTA).

De­fec­tive or poorly fit­ted tow­bars, over-load­ing and poor weight dis­tri­bu­tion are among lead­ing causes of trailer-re­lated ac­ci­dents.

The sum­mer sea­son will bring more ve­hi­cles on the road tow­ing a trailer or car­a­van than at any other time of year, but driv­ers can do much to min­imise the dan­gers with proper prepa­ra­tion and by fol­low­ing a few sim­ple safety steps, says a lead­ing tow­bar man­u­fac­turer, Best Bars Ltd.

With more than a 25-years’ ex­pe­ri­ence sup­ply­ing tow­bars into New Zealand and Aus­tralia, Best Bars has pushed to im­prove the safety of tow­ing and car­ry­ing, by in­vest­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into state-of-the-art en­gi­neer­ing, test­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy for the ben­e­fit of ve­hi­cle own­ers.

Be­fore head­ing off with the trailer or car­a­van in tow, first check the tow­bar it­self, to en­sure all the bolts at­tach­ing it to the ve­hi­cle are tight, there is no cor­ro­sion present or cracking in the welds or struc­ture and the tow­ball it­self is se­cured prop­erly to the tongue.

Be aware that even if the tow­bar looks OK, all may not be right. Some tow­bars are made from in­fe­rior qual­ity steel, which doesn’t meet the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer’s guide­lines.

If a new tow­bar is re­quired, en­sure it has been de­signed to NZ Stan­dard 5467:1993 and car­ries a metal tam­per-proof la­bel to iden­tify it. Cheap, im­ported tow­bars or those avail­able on­line may use in­fe­rior parts and/or be poorly de­signed. For the sake of a few dol­lars it pays to invest in a gen­uine New Zealand-spe­cific tow­bar and have it pro­fes­sion­ally fit­ted.

Also, make sure the tow­ball is cor­rectly matched to the trailer or car­a­van cou­pling – there are two main sizes of tow­ball used in this coun­try (one-inch and 50mm). Best Bars has a quickchange, con­vert-a-ball ac­ces­sory that ac­com­mo­dates both sizes, which is very handy when rent­ing a trailer or swap­ping be­tween trail­ers.

A safety chain must also be used be­tween the tow­ing ve­hi­cle and lighter trailer-car­a­van, with dou­ble chains re­quired if the weight of what’s be­ing towed is more than 2000 kilo­grams.

When pack­ing the car­a­van or trailer-boat for the trip, make sure that the load on the tow­ball tongue does not ex­ceed the rec­om­mended tongue weight (stated on the la­bel). Too much weight may not only cause sta­bil­ity prob­lems when driv­ing, it can also put un­due load on the tow­bar and con­nec­tion to the ve­hi­cle chas­sis.

In­cor­rect load­ing has been iden­ti­fied as a fac­tor in 27 crashes a year on New Zealand roads and it’s prob­a­bly one of the most dif­fi­cult things to get right. That terrifying ex­pe­ri­ence of a ve­hi­cle and trailer ‘‘snaking’’, or sway­ing on the open road, is a symp­tom of fail­ure to get the bal­ance right. But there is a de­vice that can help.

A load lev­eller that fits onto the draw­bar of the trailer and con­nects to the tow­bar on the tow­ing ve­hi­cle can help to re­dress the bal­ance through re­dis­tribut­ing the load, so the weight is trans­ferred fur­ther for­ward.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.