We all hear stories of caravanners and boaties being pulled over and weighed but it is always second-hand information?

David Kellock
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 12:58PM

I have never had anyone tell me it’s happened to them.

Well, this has now changed: since the weekend of January 4-5, 2017, there are now 71 caravan owners on the east coast who can say they’ve been weighed.
Over that weekend, police from Orbost — a small town in in Victoria’s Gippsland region — converged on Newmerella 5km away with Vic Roads and used numerous helpers to set up Operation Wise, a State-wide blitz over the Christmas holiday period.

What made this town unique was they targeted caravans and other trailers using Vic Roads’ portable roadside scales. The operation was to educate road users on tow weight compliance and general safety, not to issue tickets. The police and Vic Roads took on a helpful and constructive manner with all the drivers and many questions were answered.

Drivers were given advice on how to reduce weight and the effect it has on stability.

Over the two days, the operation revealed some interesting insights.
Only two drivers knew their caravan and vehicle ratings and most had an idea of what their maximum (ATM) was but were confused on how to manage the weight so they didn’t exceed it.
Only three drivers knew what their rigs actually weighed;
41 were overweight in one or more of their ratings (ATM, GTM or ball weight) and 5 were overweight by more than 20 per cent.
The majority of those stopped were surprised at how heavy they were and had underestimated the actual weights when loading their rigs.

Act Sgt Shenton said there were plans to expand the operation to other areas in Victoria.

Most industry people expected something like this but it’s rather confronting nonetheless.
If you translate those figures to the 600,000 registered caravans in Australia, only about 25,000 will know their caravan’s weight.
More of a concern is the remaining 575,000 owners who have very little or no idea what their caravan weighs, while the 42,000 who are in all likelihood overweight by more than 20 per cent is worse still.
At the moment, more of these operations will still focus on education — but if this doesn’t work then the big stick will come out.

One point of concern was the number of dual-cab Ute’s towing huge weights, with excess weights in the trays, which put them well over their GCM.
One issue the industry has — and manufacturers have to rectify — is the incorrect tare weights on caravans.

Very few manufacturers weigh their caravans once they are built, so before you sign an offer to purchase, make it a condition the dealer weighs the caravan empty and make sure it matches the compliance plate.

If it’s not right the dealer can get a new compliance plate before you take delivery.