Truck friendly caravan program: ‘A truck licence is not the answer’

While some have called for a towing licence to be introduced for caravanners, Ken Wilson, manager of the popular Truck Friendly caravan movement, says a truck licence won’t solve the problem.

“There is a recognised need for more education and training. Education is the key. Knowledge is power,” he said.

Wilson has been a strong advocate for compulsory towing education for caravanners.

His website shares information about truck safety, caravan safety and road safety; and the ‘Truck Friendly – caravan road safety program’ Facebook page has over 20,000 followers. He was also behind the ‘I’m Truck Friendly’ sticker initiative, where only caravanners who qualify and have a UHF can order a free sticker to place on their caravan.

Yesterday he shared a post on why he doesn’t support introducing a towing licence for caravan drivers, which garnered over 100 shares in just 24 hours.

“While I am one of the first to admit that there is a real, and serious problem with a lack of training of drivers towing large trailers resulting in Queensland Police statistics showing that an alarming 90 per cent of caravanners were overweight in some respect, licencing is not the solution,” Wilson said.

The conundrum, he says, is that the total weight of a car and caravan being driven on a car licence, also falls into the light rigid truck class, which covers a rigid vehicle between 4500 kgs and 8000kg Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM).

“Special licencing and special training is required before you can obtain Light Rigid or LR licence to tow a reasonably stable and rigid ‘truck’. These vehicles can also include many American and other utes with a GVM over 4500kg,” explained Wilson.

“It is well known that a caravan is a ‘pig’ trailer and one of the most unstable designs and therefore not often used in heavy transport. They prefer the fifth wheel or semi-trailer design for more stability.”

Wilson says a light rigid or heavy rigid licence for everyone towing a caravan isn’t going to solve the problem.

“There is currently no part of the training required for a LR or HR licence that explains how to specifically load a pig trailer, caravan car trailer, horse float or other large trailers. It does not prepare a caravanner for the caravan sway, loading, setting up correctly, tyre pressures, hitches, tow ball weights, balancing the load and other training needed for safe caravan or other towing,” he said.

“We have many current and ex-truck drivers following the Truck Friendly caravan road safety education Facebook page with vast experience in driving heavy trucks, semi-trailers, B-doubles, triples and road trains, who now also tow a caravan.

“All I have spoken to admit, while the experience does give you an advantage on the highways, it takes a very different set of skills to know how to safely load and tow an unstable pig trailer than a semi-trailer.”

While a special towing licence could help with the problem, Wilson says the issue then becomes the who, how, when, where and what goes into these licences.

“We will need to include all drivers towing different sorts of trailers of a similar weight or specifications. We cannot just licence drivers towing caravans, but exclude boats, horse floats (some also have accommodation), builder’s trailers, car trailers and other large and heavy trailers,” he said.

“Who do we specify needs to have a towing licence. Is it drivers of trailers requiring brakes (over 750kg), trailers requiring electric brakes (over 2000kg) or some other weight or do we licence by the number of axles (two or more axle groups)?

“We would need a recognised national standard approved course of some description, where ALL states agree on the content and the delivery method.”

“How do we introduce a towing licence, in six different states and two different territories? Remember, we would need all six states and two territories to agree on the who, what, how and when of any towing licence if introduced and they cannot currently agree on towing speeds and many other road safety issues.

“For one state to ‘go it alone’, would be political and tourism suicide as mobile tourists boycott that state when they cannot travel there without a towing licence. It would need a national approach.”

To read Ken Wilson’s original post, click here.

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