Motorists could face a £2,500 fine under the new law

Caravan holidays have long been part of the national psyche in Britain and have been satirized in many of our much-loved sitcoms like Father Ted, Gavin and Stacey or The Inbetweeners.

As part of the increase in ‘stays’, caravans seem to be rapidly becoming a national favorite again. The Easter bank holiday will bring hordes of tourists to their grockleshells in the West Country in search of sun, surf and sea.

However, at the end of last year changes were made to the law which may affect anyone with a caravan. Rhiannon Philps, personal finance expert and lead writer at NerdWallet has published a guide to help caravan owners avoid ending up with a hefty fine or points on your licence.

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Make sure you are eligible to tow a caravan

At the end of last year, the law has changed Thus, anyone with a full driving license can now tow a caravan without additional qualification, as long as the maximum authorized mass (MMA) of the vehicle and the caravan does not exceed 3,500 kg. However, not all caravans fall into this category, so it is worth checking the weight of your model to see if you are allowed to tow it with a standard permit.

Those who passed their test before 1 January 1997 are eligible to tow a larger caravan (a combined vehicle and caravan weight of up to 8.25 tonnes MAM) – without additional driving qualifications. However, it is always best to check the back of your license; if you have category B or BE, you can drive caravans up to 3,500 kg, while a category C1E (107) will be on your license if you can tow the larger trailer.

Check your tail light panel

As they are generally less used than our cars, faults in caravan lights are not always noticeable and may not be checked as regularly. But driving with a light off on a vehicle can constitute driving in a dangerous condition resulting in a fine of up to £2,500, a driving ban and a 3 point penalty for operating a vehicle in a condition dangerous.

Check all your tires

Like our lights, we don’t always inspect our caravan tires. But after a few months in our driveways, tires can lose pressure and even crack. It is always advisable to check all tires before a long journey for air pressure and any signs of damage – as well as to ensure that the tread depth is above the legal limit of 1.6mm on the center three-quarters of the tread width – and over the entire circumference of the tire. Towing any vehicle with tires that do not meet the legal limit may result in invalidation of any insurance – as well as a fine of £2,500 per tire – and three penalty points.

Remember the speed limit and lane laws

Towing a caravan means you have different laws to follow. For example, when driving on highways, drivers should not exceed 60 mph and should never enter the right lane when there is three or more lanes. When driving on a single carriageway, the maximum speed limit for those towing a caravan is 50 mph to ensure vehicle stability. Failure to comply with these rules may result in a £100 fine and three penalty points.

Protect yourself with caravan breakdown insurance

Although it’s not the law, it’s still worth getting caravan breakdown cover up – just in case something happens. If you break down in the middle of a highway, your car breakdown insurance will probably only cover your car – not your caravanleaving you to pay an expensive call bill.

Rhiannon, added: “Easter often signals the start of the caravanning and camping season, with longer days and drier weather encouraging holidays at home.

“While this is great for the UK travel industry, newcomers to caravanning can get caught up. But a little checking, planning ahead and simple maintenance can save a lot of grief from love – and avoid potential fines.”

All information from nerdwallet.

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