As the caravan season starts to hot up for this year (and hopefully the weather too…) we thought that it would be a good time to remind caravan owners about the laws pertaining to caravans and mirrors. It only takes a short drive out and about to start spotting caravan owners who do not have the additional mirrors fitted.
Contrary to popular belief, towing mirrors are a legal requirement for the majority of cars including 4×4’s that are towing a caravan or trailer.
The law is very clear on the subject of mirrors and towing –
- If your trailer or caravan is wider than the rear of the towing car, you must fit additional towing mirrors
Aside from breaking the law, if you choose not to fit them you run the risk of –
- A 3 point penalty on your licence
- Being prosecuted by the police
- A fine of up to £1,000 for each mirror infringement
The law also specifies that you must have a clear field of vision 4 metres out from the side of your van, and 20 metres back behind the driver. The diagram below clearly shows the area either side of the car that you need to be able to see. Without the additional mirrors, you will find that you may have blind spots caused by the edges of your caravan.
However, the law doesn’t stop there. To prevent your tow car becoming an additional hazard, there is a maximum distance of 25cm that the mirrors must not extend beyond the width of your caravan; this is reduced to a maximum of 20cm on cars manufactured prior to 26th January 2007.
You may also find that should you be involved in an accident, your car insurance may be invalidated if you are found to be at fault – so is it worth the risk?
- Make sure that the mirrors can be adjusted from the driver’s seat
- Cheap isn’t always best. Bear in mind that when you are travelling at speed the mirrors need to be strong enough to withstand strong gusts of wind – especially from HGVs travelling in the opposite direction.
- Extendable mirrors must be E-marked (lower or upper case) to show that they comply with EU safety regulations if the car was registered after 26th January 2010. This is not a legal requirement if the car was registered prior to this date.
- Measure your car and caravan carefully to ensure that you are buying mirrors that can see the full distance required, but do not extend too far
- Not all mirrors fit all cars, so double check before buying
- Look for mirrors that are made with safety glass
There are many makes on the market, but Milenco is a particularly well-known one with a variety of different mirrors priced from around £20 upwards. They are available from many caravan accessory stockists and also online from Amazon.
Fitting Your Mirrors
Ideally this is a job that should be carried out by two people. One inside the car fitting the mirrors and another standing back at the required 20 metres and testing your potential blind spot areas. The second person can also help to fit the mirror on the offside of the car, again to make sure the angle is correct.
From the driver’s seat, the mirrors need adjusting in the same way. A good rule of thumb is that on both sides of the car you should be able to see –
- The caravan grabhandle
- The caravan wheel-arch
- A clear vision of the road behind you including the road surface alongside the caravan
- If you can see into the caravan front window, they probably need adjusting outwards a bit more
If you have got your mirrors in the correct place, you should be able to see any pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists approaching or crossing close to you. Use your helper to make sure that this is the case.
Don’t forget to remove your mirrors when you have detached the caravan or trailer. It is an offence to drive with them still attached.
If you found this article useful or have any suggestions or questions, please leave a comment below.
Whilst it is not a legal requirement to have insurance on your caravan, it would be a wise investment. After all, your caravan probably cost you a lot of money and your investment should be protected. Quality insurance from Lifesure is probably cheaper than you think, so call the team on 01480 402460 for a quote and prepare to be pleasantly surprised!