Caravan Snaking – Tips And Advice On How To Prevent It

a caravan being loaded in a field with a table and chairs in the background

A snaking caravan is something that all caravan owners hope to avoid as it can be terrifying and potentially very dangerous. Most cases can be prevented, but accidents can happen to even the most careful driver, so we’ve put together a short guide to avoid it happening, with advice on what to do if it does happen, so you can make the difference between a really scary experience, and a possibly fatal accident.

What Is Caravan Snaking?

Caravan snaking is exactly what you’d imagine it to be from the name. It happens when the caravan moves around the towing hitch axle and veers from side to side, like a snake. If it’s not brought under control the motion can become more extreme and the caravan could jackknife, resulting in the driver losing control of both the caravan and the car and them both overturning.

Why Does It Happen?

Snaking can be caused by a few things:

  • Driving too fast
  • Strong crosswinds
  • Being overtaken by a larger vehicle
  • Incorrect loading, e.g., overloading the nose of the caravan
  • Sudden swerving

What To Do If It Happens

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a snaking situation, the most important thing to do is not panic. There’s a common misconception that you should accelerate and power through it, but that’s wrong, and potentially more dangerous. There are, however, a few things you can do:

  • Put your hazards on – this will warn other drivers that there’s a problem.
  • Don’t lock your hands on the steering wheel – as tempting as it might be to grip it really tight, loosen your grip and feed it through your hands so you’re still in control and can still stay on course without forcing it.
  • Take both feet off the pedals – resist the urge to slam the brakes on, this will slow the car down too quickly. You need to reduce your speed using the engine; in a manual car you can make your way down through the gears.
  • Pull over when appropriate – as soon as it’s safe to do so, pull over so you can inspect any possible damage, determine how it happened and, most importantly, calm down!
A person loading a caravan onto the back of a car

Is There Any Way You Can Prevent Caravan Snaking?

As the saying goes, prevention is much better than the cure, and there are some things you can do to prevent caravan snaking:

  • Remember 85% – the general rule is that the caravan shouldn’t weigh more than 85% of the kerb weight of the towing car.
  • Smart loading – heavy items should be loaded low down and over the axle in the caravan, and as near to the rear axle as possible in the car.
  • Maintain your tyres – this should be part of your usual routine anyway as tyre safety is vital to maintaining your caravan, but keep an eye on the tread depth and tyre pressure, as well as the general condition, and remember to check the tyres on your car too.
  • Watch your speed – if you’re going too fast you have less time to respond if something does go wrong and the impact could be worse.
anti-snaking device on the back of a caravan

How About Anti-Snaking Devices?

While a stabilising system won’t stop a badly laden caravan from snaking, fitting a safety device to your caravan can help prevent it from happening. There are generally three types:

  • The Anti-Snake Bar – this has three parts; one attaches to the towing vehicle and one to the caravan A frame, with a bar with a friction pad attaching both parts. This is the cheapest option.
  • The Hitch Head Stabiliser – these attach to the tow ball and work in the same way as the anti-snake bar, by causing friction between the towing vehicle and the caravan, except the friction is applied directly to the tow ball.
  • Electronic Stabilisers – these are designed to work alongside the previous two options. They work using sensors that are placed under the caravan that can detect when the caravan is moving from side to side, it then applies brakes to reduce the movement and stabilise the caravan.

All the best technology equipment in the world can’t protect a badly loaded caravan, or make up for poor driving, so it should always be seen as a backup plan. But with some careful planning, there’s no reason why you can’t head off in your caravan safely.

Another way to feel protected is to make sure you’re covered by Caravan Insurance. Here at The Insurance Emporium, we have a range of policies available to you, and you could even get a 10% discount when you install an electronic anti-snaking device. Why not take a look and get a free, no-strings quote today?

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