Can one tow at high speeds – over 100 km/h?
With the vastly improved road system in South Africa, the National Highways and Toll roads, the modern high performance motor vehicle is capable of towing the modern low profile caravan at higher speeds today than ever before. There is no reason why one should not be permitted to tow at 120 km/h today on the open road.
What one must realize, is that the faster one tows, the more petrol will be consumed. A rule of thumb; - a vehicle towing a caravan at 100 km/h uses about 30% more fuel than the same rig towing at 80 km/h. It is also far safer at 80 km/h to control the rig than in speeds in excess of 100 km/h!
The safe recommended towing speed at any time and with any rig, is between 80 and 90 km/h. A very experienced driver can tow at higher speeds, obeying all the speed limits and safety rules, and not be a menace to other road users. A novice caravanner, however, must pay special attention to speed, and always be aware that he or she is towing a caravan. The modern caravans and vehicles tow so well, that one can easily forget that you are towing a vehicle behind you, especially if there is a tail wind.
An imperative word of advice to any caravanner that wishes to for any reason, to tow at speeds above 90 km/h: - The following items on both the towing vehicle as well as the vehicle being towed, are to be in a 100% efficient working order.
During high speed towing especially, sudden gusts of wind, turbulence from passing heavy vehicles, improper load distribution in the towed vehicle and the road surface can all play their part in creating risks. Heavy vehicles, busses and pantechnicons all cause upsets and disarray when overtaking or when you are been overtaken. Always change down a gear when you are about to overtake one of these heavy vehicles, so as to allow you the speed required as well as better compression to assist in braking if the sudden need arises. This will definitely assist in stability and overall control.
Always move out slowly from behind the vehicle you are about to overtake, bearing in mind that the wind turbulence, or slipstream, is always at it’s worst when a few meters behind the heavy vehicle, than when alongside. This is likely to cause the most instability of the caravan.Be especially careful when going through cuttings or over river bridges. The side draught can give you a tremendous push from the side. Always be ready for these side draughts, as they can give you a nasty scare.
Should you need to correct suddenly, always keep the steering wheel steady and on course at all times. Do not brake hard, but simply lift your foot from the accelerator and slow down gently. Accelerating harder is a fallacy, and should be avoided at all times!
In windy conditions, always travel slower than normal, and avoid overtaking pantechnicons at high speeds. Rather slow down a bit and follow behind until it is absolutely safe to pass. Never pass one of these giants on a downhill at speed! The wind turbulence can be very hair rising.
Happy and safe towing!