Return to home page
Index of Site contents
Thomson Caravans
Helpful advice and tips
Recommended Books and Manuals
Brochures Archive
Visit Our Features Section
My Health News
All about our Thomson T-Line Glen Nevis
Have a look through the photos of the various places we have been.
Caravn and Campsites information index page
Thomson Caravans and parts for sale
Contact Us
Looking for a website, try our comprehensive list of links.
Please Donate
Find us on Facebook
Use the search box below to find anything on Thomson Caravans History and Information
from Caravan facts - 1983
From October 1982, every trailer with a maximum gross weight exceeding 750 kg must be equipped with an efficient braking system. If the brakes do not come into operation automatically, on the overrun of the trailer they must operate by the application of the footbrake (i.e. the main brake) of the towing vehicle and there must be a secondary means of operation. A handbrake is required and must operate on at least two wheels and the braking force must be maintained without the intervention of any hydraulic, electric or pneumatic device. The handbrake must be capable of holding the trailer stationary on a gradient of at least 1 in 6.25 without the assistance of stored energy (BS 4626 requires a handbrake to hold a caravan at maximum gross weight on a 1 in 4 but this is not law.) The outfit must be able to achieve braking efficiencies of 0.5g on the footbrake and O.25g on the tow car handbrake. In the case of trailers manufactured before January 1, 1968, the requirements are slightly less strict.
Certificated locations
Small parcels of private land designated as sites for the use of their members by clubs empowered to issue certificates under the Caravan Sites Act 1960. The locations are strictly for members of the club issuing the certificate and only five caravans are permitted on the land at any one time. There is no limit the period of use but clubs often limit individual stays to 28 days. Legislation will be introduced soon to increase the number of caravans or tents which can be accommodated from five to eight.
Chassis plate
Trailer caravans are not required to carry a plate on the chassis but in most cases the chassis maker does fix a plate bearing the chassis number of the caravan.
Two wheels on one side of a trailer are 'c1ose-coupled when they are fixed in relation to the longitudinal axis of the trailer and the distance between the centres of their respective areas of contact with the road is not more than 1 metre (39.37in).
There are no regulations governing the colour of mobile touring caravans.
The design of the coupling is not defined in law. It conforms to the new British Standard AU 113a: 1978 which defines a ball of 50mm diameter with a tolerance of + nil to -0.39mm. The coupling bolt holes are of 5/8in clearance at 3½in centres and the vertical distance between the bolt hole centres and the centre of the ball is 2¾in. British Standard AU 113a: 1978 also defines a distance between the centre of the towing ball and the ground of between 350mm (13.8in) and 420mm (16.5in) with the vehicle laden to its maximum permissible weight.
Direction indicators
A trailer must have amber flashing indicators at the rear. There are a few exceptions such as very small trailers which do not mask the tow car's signals and pre-1955 trailers towed by pre-1965 cars with old types of indicators. Common sense and safety suggest that all caravans should be fitted with flashing indicators even if, strictly speaking, the law permits a particular outfit on the road without them.
The caravan indicators must flash in unison with those of the tow car and within the permitted rates of flash (i.e. 60-120 flashes per minute). The system must have provision for the driver to be made aware of the failure of any one of the indicators on caravan or tow car Maximum height for mounting caravan indicators is 7ft 6in above the ground and the minimum height is 1ft 3in.
Not specifically defined in the Construction and Use Regulations but is the forward projection of the chassis for use as a means of attaching the trailer to another vehicle. It is expressly excluded for calculating the overall length of the trailer.
No special driving test or driving licence is necessary for towing a trailer caravan. Holders of a provisional driving licence may not drive a vehicle towing a caravan. It is generally accepted that a Heavy Goods Vehicle driving licence is not required for a motor caravan over 3 tons unladen weight, but there is no hard and fast case law on the subject.
Fire extinguisher
There is no requirement for a fire extinguisher to be carried in a touring caravan, but the British Standard Specification for Touring Trailer Caravans (BS 4626:1970) strongly recommends that an extinguisher of at least 4.5 litres of water or 1kg of dry powder be provided inside every caravan.

New regulations have been. The caravan gas system and appliances must be in an efficient and safe condition. The gas must be shut off at the container when no appliance is in use and the vehicle must have sufficient ventilation for the appliances to operate without affecting the health or comfort of the occupants.

When the vehicle is in motion further regulations apply. No appliance shall be used except a refrigerator or a heater with no outside flame, the appliance must have a flame failure device and a heater in a motor vehicle must be have a flue or of the catalytic type.
British Standard BS 4626: 1970 - Touring Trailer Caravans - requires that where a gas cylinder locker is provided inside a caravan, a special warning notice be fixed to the outside of the locker. There are special regulations concerning the carriage of gas cylinders in certain tunnels in Britain and the normal allowance permitted on cross-Channel ferries is three sealed cylinders.
Heavy motor car
A mechanically-propelled vehicle which weighs more than 3050 kg (3 tons) unladen if constructed for the carriage of not more than seven passengers plus driver or a goods vehicle; weighs more than 2540 kg (2½ tons) unladen if of any other (e.g. bus or mobile functional unit).
Open land up to 15 yd from the highway is technically part of the highway. It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle more than this distance on to common, moor or other land. Camping and caravanning on many commons is expressly forbidden. Parking on a roadside verge within 15 yd of the road is not in itself an offence, although if it causes an unnecessary obstruction the police can bring a prosecution. Camping on a verge could almost certainly be defined as unnecessary obstruction. A lay-by is part of the highway and a caravanner stopping overnight in a lay-by runs the risk of being prosecuted for obstruction or at least being moved on.
Compulsory third-party cover required by the Road Traffic Acts for a trailer is normally provided by the tow car policy and it is essential for users to ensure that their car policy is not invalidated by towing. Most car insurances cover towing but some may require an additional premium. Claims made by third parties in respect of damage caused by the caravan while attached to the car should be referred to the car insurance company. But damage to the caravan or third-party damage caused while the caravan is sited (e.g. if it caught fire and damaged someone else's property) is not normally covered by the car policy and needs to be insured for separately, although such cover is not required by law.
(See highway)
Overall length of a two-wheeled or close-coupled four-wheeled trailer shall not exceed 7 metres (22.965ft). Overall length specifically excludes any part of the trailer designed primarily for use as a means of attaching it to another vehicle (e.g. the drawbar). The total length of a trailer including the drawbar is usually described as the shipping length.
A trailer caravan must have two rear lights which conform to certain size requirements or, in the case of very recent trailers, bear the appropriate approval mark. No part of the illuminated area may be more than 3ft 6in from the ground or less than l5in. No part of the trailer may extend laterally more than l6in beyond the illuminated area of the lamp. Sidelights are required if the trailer extends laterally more than l2in beyond the centre of the tow car's sidelights. Trailer sidelights must be mounted so that the centre of the lamp is not more than 5ft from the ground and no part of the trailer extends laterally more than l2in beyond the centre of the lamp. Heights from the ground must be measured with the trailer at kerbside weight and with tyres at recommended pressures. Kerbside weight is defined as the weight of the trailer when it carries no person thereon and is otherwise unladen.
A private car manufactured before December 1977 must have a rear-view mirror. A dual-purpose vehicle manufactured before that date must have two mirrors, one of which must be external on the offside. Private cars, dual-purpose vehicles and goods vehicles manufactured on or after December 1, 1977, and first used on or after June 1, 1978, must be fitted with an interior mirror and at least one exterior mirror on the offside, if the interior mirror does not provide `an adequate view of the road to the rear of the vehicle 'an additional exterior mirror must be fitted on the nearside. The exterior mirror on the driver's side must be capable of being adjusted by the driver when in his driving position or it must be a spring-back type. If the bottom edge of an exterior mirror is less than two metres above the road surface when the vehicle is laden, the mirror shall not project more than 20cm beyond the overall width of the vehicle, or where the vehicle is drawing a trailer, more than 20cm beyond the overall width of the trailer.
Motor Car
A mechanically-propelled vehicle not exceeding 3050 kg (3 tons) unladen weight if constructed for the carriage of not more than seven passengers plus driver or a goods vehicle; not exceeding 2540 kg (2½ tons) unladen weight if of any other type (e.g. minibus with more than seven seats plus driver, mobile functional unit, etc).
The speed limit for vehicles towing caravans on motorways is the same as on general purpose roads. Vehicles towing trailers are not permitted in the overtaking lane of three-lane motorways when all three lanes are in service. On certain motorway service areas the use of gas cooking equipment is forbidden. Some, but not all, motorway service areas permit caravans to park overnight but the charge is often very high.
That part of the weight of the trailer carried by the towing vehicle. There are no legal maximum or minimum limits to noseweight but the EEC draft provisions on caravans have suggested a maximum of 100kg (220.5lb) minimum 25kg (55.1lb).
Number plate
A trailer must carry a rear number plate bearing the number of the towing vehicle and be illuminated at night. The plate may be reflective or non-reflective type but otherwise must conform to the same size and colour regulations as for cars. A reflective black and yellow plate may be used on a trailer towed by a vehicle with non-reflective plates and vice-versa.
The parking brake must be set if a trailer is detached from the towing vehicle (see also Brakes). The concessions for cars about parking without lights on certain roads do not apply to a car coupled to a trailer, and therefore side lights must be in use whenever an outfit is parked on a road after dark.
Passengers are forbidden in a trailer caravan except for authorised test personnel while carrying out a test for the manufacturer of the trailer or on behalf of a dealer in trailers.
Television sets used in caravans are covered by the user's domestic licence (providing one exists) so long as they are not permanently installed and operate from batteries contained within the set. A TV set in a motor vehicle must not be in a position where the screen can be viewed by the driver. No licence is required for any radio receiver.
Rear fog lights
All caravans manufactured on or after October 1, 1979 and first used on or after April 1, 1980 must be fitted with either one or two rear fog lights. If only one light is fitted it must be on the offside and if two are fitted they must be a matched pair. The lights must be visible within certain angles and must be fitted not less than 250mm (9.84in) and not more than 1 metre (3ft 3.37in) from the ground. Maximum wattage permitted is 25 and the lights must be wired so that they can only be used with head, side or front fog lights. A tell-tale light to warn the driver that the lights are in use must be fitted. When a car fitted with rear fog lights is towing a caravan the rear fog lights on the car may be disconnected. Rear fog lights may be used only in conditions of bad visibility such as fog, snow, smoke, heavy rain or spray.
Reflectors - rear
Two triangular reflectors are required on all trailers. There are four types of reflector permitted but the usual type are a solid red or red with a white centre. The triangles must have equal sides of 150-200mm. Reflectors must not be more than 3ft 6in from the ground to the highest point of the reflector, and not less than l5in from the ground to the lowest point. No part of the trailer or its equipment may extend more than l6in beyond the nearest part of the reflector on that side. Reflectors must not be less than 2lin apart and must be at the same height from the ground.
Reflectors - side
Caravans more than 5 metres (l6ft 4.85in) long (excluding drawbar) must carry two amber reflectors on each side if used on the road during the hours of darkness. The reflectors must bear an approval mark incorporating the Roman numeral I and must be mounted vertically, one within the rearmost 500mm (19.7in) on the side wall and the other within the centre third. Both reflectors must be at least 400mm (15.7in) and not more than l200mm (47.2in) from the ground. (Caravans made before October 1970 may have the reflectors mounted up to 1500mm (59in) from the ground.)

Royal Parks

Trailer caravans are not permitted on public roads within the Royal Parks. Special regulations have Taken East Carriage Drive, London, outside the boundaries of Hyde Park.
Spare bedroom
A caravan stored in the owner's garden can be used as a spare bedroom to accommodate guests but not paying guests. Friends can bring their own caravan and stay within the garden of a house. The Ministry definition of the relevant exemption is `if the caravan is sited in the curtilage of a dwelling house and its use is incidental to the enjoyment of the house'. The exemption is not confined to only one caravan at a time.
Speed limits
The speed limit for trailer caravans towed by a private motor car or goods vehicle is 40mph on all roads, including motorways, on which a lower limit is not in force. But 50mphis permitted if the Maximum Gross Weight (see Weights) of the caravan does not exceed the Kerbside Weight (see Weights) of the towing vehicle, the relevant weights are marked on both vehicles and the caravan carries a 50 plate on the rear. Motor caravans are currently thought to be governed only by the overall 70 mph general limit.
Stop lights
     All trailers manufactured before January 1971 must have at least one red stop light fitted on the offside. An additional stop light may be fitted on the nearside. All trailers manufactured after January 1971 must have two red stop lights symmetrically positioned and at the same height from the ground. No part of a stop light may be more than 1500mm (4ft 11.05in) or less than 400mm (1ft 3.748in) from the ground and the two lights may not be less than 600mm (1ft 11.622in) apart.
     A householder may store his caravan in his own garden without permission providing there are no covenants in the deeds of the property preventing this and, if not freehold, the lease does not forbid it. There is a large number of areas where storage in the front garden (i.e. forward of the building line) does require permission from the local authority. If in doubt check with the Town Hall.
     No motor vehicle or trailer may be equipped with a toilet, the contents of which can be discharged on to a road. It is an offence to permit the contents of any toilet, basin or sink to be discharged or to leak on to any road.
Trailer tax
     There is no road tax on a trailer caravan used for private recreational purposes. A trailer towed by a goods or dual-purpose vehicle in connection with a trade or profession is liable to a tax of £15 a year.
      The safety regulations for car tyres, dealing with tread, cuts, blisters, pressures, etc, apply also to caravans. Re-cut tyres must not be used on caravans. Cross ply or radial tyres may be used but do not mix the two. An offence would probably be committed if the actual laden weight of a caravan exceeded the recommended maximum load for the two tyres.
    The law is very vague at present on caravan weights. Unladen weight of a trailer is referred to in legislation but nowhere is it defined. The ex-works or delivered weight of a caravan is a more realistic figure but even this may not represent the actual weight of a new caravan since it is based on a standard model and may not take into account any extras fitted. The maximum gross weight of a trailer is defined in the speed limit regulations as the weight which it is designed or adapted not to exceed when in normal use and travelling on a road laden. The noseweight is part of, not additional to, the MGW. Kerbside weight of a caravan is defined only in lighting regulations (see Lights). Kerbside weight of a tow car is defined in the speed limit regulations as the weight of the vehicle (inclusive of any towing bracket with which it is normally equipped) when it carries no person thereon and a full supply of fuel in its tank, an adequate supply of other liquids incidental to its propulsion, and no load other than the loose tools and equipment with which the vehicle is normally equipped.
The maximum width for a trailer caravan is 2.3 metres (7ft 6.bin). Trailers up to 2.5 metres (8ft 2.42in) wide may be towed by a heavy motor car providing no part of the trailer extends laterally more than 12 in on each side the towing vehicle.
     All exterior windows in caravans manufactured on or after December 1, 1977, and first used on or after September 1, 1978, must be of safety glazing (i.e. toughened glass or plastic). Caravans manufactured before that date may be fitted with ordinary plate window glass.
Frequently Asked Questions Handy Hints and Tips Instruction Manuals & DIY
Use the search box below to find anything on Thomson Caravans History and Information

Please support Thomson Caravans History & Information Website by donating via Paypal
Parks index Photo Album Links Contact
Thomson Around The World
Copyright © 1998 - 2015 Thomson T-Line History & Information
Disclaimer - The information provided on this Website site is offered with no warranty as to the authenticity, suitability or competence of the individual, company or service quoted here in. The Website shall not be liable for any damage or difficulty, direct or indirect, arising from utilization of the information contained within these pages. Thomson T-Line History & Information is not responsible for the content of external website's.