WHEN John Blake hauled his brand new dream caravan out of the dealer's
yard, little did he know he was breaking the law.
The $90,000 caravan appeared very heavy, swayed and was very difficult to
un-hitch from his Jeep GC Overland.
It didn't take him long to come up with an explanation ... the RV's ball
weight was grossly overrated.
And it cost him dearly to get matters put right.
"We have taken the issue to Consumer Affairs, the Fair Trading Commission
and the Department of Commerce and they are powerless," he explained.
"We have had to retain a lawyer at considerable additional costs to seek
justice through the courts.
"Our dreams have been shattered and we no longer have the faith in the
caravan industry that we used to have.
"Since this regrettable incident I have discovered from many caravan blogs,
websites and stories that we are not the only people to fall victim to
this situation ... and probably won't be the last."
Mr Blake has now launched Safe Towing to help fellow caravanners, and
particularly unsuspecting caravan buyers, from suffering the same fate at
the hands of "cavalier caravan dealers".
And he hopes his newly developed ball weight calculator, which can be used
before buying a caravan, will help.
Ninety percent have
no idea of what their on-road ball weight is
Managing director Mr Blake claims ninety percent of caravanners have no
idea of what their on-road ball weight is.
The $20 calculator allows users to easily work out what their on-road ball
weight will be with full water tanks, gas bottles, jerry cans, generators,
tunnel boot, spare tyre, tool box and personal belongings.
"All these items add additional weight to the overall weight of the
caravan (ATM), and more importantly they add weight to the tow ball weight
calculation which we haven't been able to predict before," he said.
"Many caravan owners risk voiding their insurance for their caravan
and tow vehicle and prosecution under the road traffic code by exceeding
their ball weight limit.
"The potential for voiding your insurance whilst towing should be enough
reason for most people to stop and think, and check some facts about their
towing vehicle and caravan."
Police and transport officials in the Victorian country town of Orbust
this year stopped 71 vehicles towing caravans and issued warnings as part
of a new campaign to curb the rising number of caravan accidents, thought
to be often caused by overloading and poor weight distribution.
Only two of the caravanners checked knew what their ATM was. Forty-one RVs
were overweight and five were overweight by 20 percent.
"If you translate those figures to the 600,000 registered caravans in
Australia it means only 25,000 will know what their weight will be ...
that's less than five percent," Mr Blake said.
NSW and Queensland are also following Victoria's lead as part of a
nationwide campaign to reduce the number accidents involving towing
Mr Blake said his Safe Towing website had been designed to provide a
one-stop-shop for caravan safety.
"So for anyone considering spending $50,000 to $150,000 on that retirement
package of a dream caravan we highly recommend they invest $20 to find out
before they buy," he added.
To visit the Safe Towing site,