The Road Ahead : February March 2009
features Towing the STORY BELINDA PETERS PHOTOS STU RILEY I f the freshness and promise of a new year has you dusting off your Australian road atlas to plan that big trip, or vowing to enjoy more weekends away in the great outdoors, you might also fi nd yourself towing a caravan, boat or camper trailer. Caravanning and camping are continuing to grow in popularity, thanks not only to the growing army of ‘grey nomads’ taking to the highway, but also young families looking for fun holidays on a budget. RACQ’s executive manager, driver education, Scott Lewin said that while many motorists took a ‘she’ll be right, mate’ approach to towing, it made better sense to take a towing course to protect their safety and investment. “Towing requires a signifi cantly different skill set from normal driving, as well as knowledge of specifi c laws,” Mr Lewin said. “Coupling a caravan or trailer to your vehicle instantly makes it heavier and more diffi cult to manoeuvre, requiring more time and space to stop, as well as potentially making it up to 30 percent thirstier on fuel. “Regardless of the age of the driver, specifi c training can certainly pay off. Not only in terms of protecting your own safety and that of other motorists, but also by avoiding damage to your caravan or vehicle, and learning the best way to drive economically.” In recognition of the importance of towing training, RACQ Driver Education last year began offering half and full-day caravan and towing workshops. The courses were developed in conjunction with Caravanning Queensland and Marine Queensland, with the aim of giving participants a good understanding of all the relevant towing laws and regulations, as well as practical hands-on experience. The full-day course combines the necessary theory with valuable practical experience to help drivers gain confi dence in hitching, road towing, reversing and manoeuvring techniques, in a maximum group size of four vehicles. “The course fee includes training for both the main driver and passenger, as it’s important for both to have towing skills before embarking on a trip,” Mr Lewin said. “The full-day workshop is a good ‘welcome to caravanning’ course that gives participants more confidence in their low-speed manoeuvring, such LEFT & ABOVE: RACQ delivers a tailor-made towing course. 12 FEB/MAR 09 line as backing into tight environments, and their on-road skills. “The course is also useful as a ‘refresh’ for those who may have been towing for many years.” The half-day course is suited to those looking for one-on-one instruction and help with particular towing issues. An experienced RACQ driver coach personally trains both the driver and passenger in their own vehicle and caravan/trailer, in an intensive and practical course that can easily be tailored to the needs of each participant. As many people tow using a four-wheel- drive, RACQ also offer courses for those drivers requiring specifi c off-road skills, over and above just towing a caravan. The full-day, low-range bush driving course and the half-day sand driving courses provide participants with a mechanical understanding of their off-road capable vehicle, as well as knowledge of the correct driving techniques for differing terrain. The full- day course is a pre-requisite to the half- day sand course. Mr Lewin said that too often people were injured and vehicles damaged as a result of inexperience or lack of appreciation of potential hazards while driving off-road.
December January 2009
April May 2009