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Slow down for safety

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By Gerald Plots

After reading in your Forum about the best speed for towing, I would like to add my comment. I have been an avid caravanner/camper since 1983, when I purchased my first caravan: a Jurgens Aero.

I recently left Johannesburg for a caravanning holiday in the Cape, and did in excess of 4 000 km. Parks I visited include Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve in Beaufort West, Mountain Breeze outside Stellenbosch, Yzerfontein Caravan Park in Yzerfontein on the West coast, Citrus Creek Caravan Park in Citrusdal, Silwerstrand Caravan Park in Robertson, Mountain Breeze Caravan Park again, and I stopped at Gariep: A Forever Resort on my way back to Johannesburg.

My towing speed is 100 km/h, and although this is quite boring on some of the roads (especially through the Karoo), I find that it is relaxing, and when destinations are reached, one does not feel tired or exhausted.

I think that, irrespective of the towing vehicle-and-caravan combination, the speed one drives depends on how fast one can react to an emergency, and not on the stability of the combination.

People forget that their daily driving is without towing, and become accustomed to that. When one hooks up a caravan, there is a big difference in driving which must be taken into account, especially when you need to brake in an emergency.

What would one call an emergency? Well, here are a few things I came across in this last trip: Cattle, buck, sheep, goats, a tortoise, drunken drivers, long articulated-vehicles overtaking me with wind swaying their trailers, vehicles cutting in front after overtaking me to beat oncoming traffic, and, lastly, a car/caravan combination that overtook me, and while alongside me, started to push me off the road because of oncoming traffic. I had to brake quite hard to let this complete idiot pass safely.

I hate to consider what would have happened if I’d been travelling at 120 km/h when I braked as hard as I did. Interesting that he never thought that he should brake and come in behind me.

Since May 2015, I have travelled more than 30 000 km with a caravan and have had a few close shaves, so I remind myself that it is my responsibility to be safe and to drive at a speed where I feel I have full control.

Thank you for a fantastic magazine.

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