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Breakaway Cable - What Is The Law, Really?


TonyJover
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Hi all,

 

Yes, I know it's been covered numerous times but since reading the thread on the self-detaching detachable towbar I'm now doubting what I thought I knew.

 

Here's what I thought I knew. ..

 

1. Breakaway cable with the old-fashioned snaphook end. This MUST be looped around the towball, under the hitch, and snapped back on itself. It MUST NOT be hooked onto any hole, bracket or other fixed item.

 

2. Breakaway cable with caribiner end. This MUST be attached to the provided fixed attachment point. It MUST NOT be looped around the towball onto itself.

 

So that's what I believed. But now I read that police are stopping folk with the early snaphook type cable and telling them that looping it around the towball is illegal.

 

Has the law changed that we all MUST now fit the caribiner type?

Were the police in question simply mistaken?

Have the rules for 1. above changed?

 

Thanks,

Tony

Edited by TonyJover
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Advice from Alko http://www. al-ko. co. uk/edit/files/how-to/how-to-attach-your-breakaway-cable-rev2. pdf

 

National Caravan Council http://www. thencc. org. uk/downloads/breakawaycable. pdf

 

The NCC guidance is dated 2003 - time for a review ??

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Hi all,

 

Yes, I know it's been covered numerous times but since reading the thread on the self-detaching detachable towbar I'm now doubting what I thought I knew.

 

Here's what I thought I knew. ..

 

1. Breakaway cable with the old-fashioned snaphook end. This MUST be looped around the towball, under the hitch, and snapped back on itself. It MUST NOT be hooked onto any hole, bracket or other fixed item.

 

2. Breakaway cable with caribiner end. This MUST be attached to the provided fixed attachment point. It MUST NOT be looped around the towball onto itself.

 

So that's what I believed. But now I read that police are stopping folk with the early snaphook type cable and telling them that looping it around the towball is illegal.

 

Has the law changed that we all MUST now fit the caribiner type?

Were the police in question simply mistaken?

Have the rules for 1. above changed?

 

Thanks,

Tony

What did you read and where did you read it please ?

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Not sure about any recent changes but you should only be attaching a breakaway cable to the towbar or neck where there is no alternative. However, most tow brackets have the potential to fit or indeed come with places to fit a carabina style cable. These are then attached to the bracket rather than the ball or neck so that everything is covered in the event of a failure. With the clip back type around the tow ball etc that only protects against failire of the trailer side of things and not the tow ball.

 

You can get 'new' replacement breakaway cables for less than £5 and they are easy to fit. And adapters are also chaeap and easy to fit to older towbar installations.

 

Technically not breaking any law however in the event of a failure where it isn't fitted or just looped around the bar it could be more difficult to avoid some awkward questions etc.

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We may be about to run in to all kinds of trouble, vosa, are busy training up a large number of "new inspectors" now what is correct and what they believe to be correct is bound to conflict with the caravanning communites beliefs, My bro in law (who is a vosa trainer) phoned to specifically warn me about the 7m trailer rule, now we all know that the draw bar and hitch is not included in the measurement, only the habitation area, but the government guide on towing site just quotes the 7m ruling nothing about the draw bar and hitch.

He advised me to get it in writing and keep it in the tow car for "clarification" if stopped, as vosa are now self funding the number of stops would seem likely to increase.

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C&U defines a 7m caravan as it body length and does not include the A frame but does include any gas locker or bottles in a box mounted on the A frame . Vosa or DVSA what ever they want to call themselves have purges on items as you always hear of members on different forums being pulled for the same reason . They seem to get told to check something that must be causing problems and pounce .

 

The problem here is are they going to pull EU visitors with vans over 7m as the road regulations are for UK roads ?

 

Are the these new inspectors or enforcement officers ?

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

Jeep Commander 3. 0 V6 CRD

Isuzu D- Max Utah Auto

Elddis Crusader Storm 2000 Kgs, Unipart Royal Atlas Mover .

 

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To the best of my knowledge, there is no law forbidding the breakaway cable from being wrapped around the towball except in the Netherlands. Those towbar manufacturers who do not provide a dedicated anchorage point for the cable will be adding a eye in future designs. However, this is second hand information and I am unable to confirm.

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What did you read and where did you read it please ?

The first post here is where I got the "illegal" bit from: http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/topic/70257-warning-to-caravan-owners/?do=findComment&comment=723003

Advice from Alko http://www. al-ko. co. uk/edit/files/how-to/how-to-attach-your-breakaway-cable-rev2. pdf

 

National Caravan Council http://www. thencc. org. uk/downloads/breakawaycable. pdf

 

The NCC guidance is dated 2003 - time for a review ??

The Alko advice fits with my scenario 1. in the OP.

 

The NCC advice contradicts the Alko advice.

 

Neither of the above mention the caribiner type clip.

 

See why I'm confused?

Not sure about any recent changes but you should only be attaching a breakaway cable to the towbar or neck where there is no alternative.

That's not what Alko say.

 

You can get 'new' replacement breakaway cables for less than £5 and they are easy to fit.

I'm aware of that, again from my OP I was asking if it's now 'compulsory'.

 

Technically not breaking any law. ..

That's not what the police told Nickie.

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That's not what Alko say.

 

 

I'm aware of that, again from my OP I was asking if it's now 'compulsory'.

 

 

That's not what the police told Nickie.

Alko don't write the legislation. Unfortunately can't link direct to the statute site but the NTTA have some info here - see para H

Not compulsory as per para H

We don't know exactly what the police said, so can't really go any further with that line. But if push came to shove it would come to light before it went too far with the police.

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Alko don't write the legislation.

No, but they do make the chassis on which very many caravans are built, and they also supply the breakaway cable. They specifically state that the non-caribiner clip MUST NOT be clipped to anything other than itself otherwise it might not perform its required function in the even of a separation.

 

So, if everyone who writes the statutes says that the cable should be clipped to the car then we WILL all have to change our cables to the caribiner type. I'm not suggesting that's a problem but I think someone should be making it very clear if that's the case.

 

Tony

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No, but they do make the chassis on which very many caravans are built, and they also supply the breakaway cable. They specifically state that the non-caribiner clip MUST NOT be clipped to anything other than itself otherwise it might not perform its required function in the even of a separation.

 

So, if everyone who writes the statutes says that the cable should be clipped to the car then we WILL all have to change our cables to the caribiner type. I'm not suggesting that's a problem but I think someone should be making it very clear if that's the case.

 

Tony

I agree, it is stupidly and needlessly confusing. I think that I will personally switch to a carabiner type as mine needs changing soon anyway.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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The law hasn't changed. It remains that you have two options. The better one being to clip it to the bracket as a first option. If not then around the neck. The clip type cables have to be clipped around the neck so that answers that one, the carabiner style ones can be clipped to the bracket - but again only where fitted.

 

Attaching the cable to the tow ball/neck only protects against the tow hitch parting company with the van.

Attaching the cable to the bracket protects against the above PLUS the tow ball parting company with the vehicle - hence it's a better option and cited as the preference. The law has not changed (yet) to insist on the preferred option. If it does a lot of us will simply have to buy new cables and possibly add a suitable connector on the bracket.

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I'm with Dreadly. My cable looks a bit ragged so I think I'll just change it for a caribiner type.

 

That'll cover me for any future change in legislation and any over-eager patrol cars.

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Attaching the cable to the tow ball/neck only protects against the tow hitch parting company with the van.

Attaching the cable to the bracket protects against the above PLUS the tow ball parting company with the vehicle

 

The regulations only require that the brake is applied if the trailer leaves the tow vehicle.

 

There is no mention of the tow ball parting from the tow bar assembly. mechanical failure or how such a breakaway cable is attached. .

 

It is well documented that a clip on connector will apply the brake before failing by the hook opening/straightening whether is is clipped or looped. Many breakaway cables have a butt ended circular ring connection to the hand brake even when a carabinier clip is fitted at the tow bar end. The latest Alko cable clearly shows this the case. In which case what part of the cable is designed to fail because something must? Both Alko and BPW have refused to answer this question on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.

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if you don't want to change it for a caribiner cable, just buy a large caribiner clip and fasten this through a hole in the bracket or the small lug that is fitted (mine is a westfalia and has the small lug). The standard clip style breakaway cable can then be passed through the dangling carabiner and clipped back on itself.

Mike

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If you take a closer look at the carabiner style the cable is attached more robustly than ones with the spring clip. However I suspect the 'weak' point is at the caravan end rather than the car end. The carabiner is presumably strong enough to 'hang on' to the cable in a staright line so to speak in order to wrench the brake on, whereas the spring clip version may well fail (if fitted in the same way) before it has chance to do that which is why it has to be looped back on itself.

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If you take a closer look at the carabiner style the cable is attached more robustly than ones with the spring clip. However I suspect the 'weak' point is at the caravan end rather than the car end. The carabiner is presumably strong enough to 'hang on' to the cable in a staright line so to speak in order to wrench the brake on, whereas the spring clip version may well fail (if fitted in the same way) before it has chance to do that which is why it has to be looped back on itself.

If you have not already seen it, this kind of explains it. .. --> http://www. caravanchannel. co. uk/videos?vid=636

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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The regulations only require that the brake is applied if the trailer leaves the tow vehicle.

 

There is no mention of the tow ball parting from the tow bar assembly. mechanical failure or how such a breakaway cable is attached. .

 

So if the tow ball parts company with the vehicle does the trailer leave the tow vehicle or not? and in this scenario how does the breakaway cable apply the brake?

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I recall quite a few years back the Caravan Club and Practical Caravan magazine panic us all into stopping us wrapping the cable round the ball or the tow bracket and clipping it back on the cable, they had us go out and have a bracket fitted under a tow ball bolt and clip to that. They said we would be stopped by police and be in trouble if we didn't.

Is this a rerun of that?

Regards, David
Peugeot 308 GT Premium, 1.5 diesel 2021

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It baffles me as to why there are two kinds of cable,carabiner and the spring-clip type.

 

Why not just have the carabiner which can be used for both scenarios as need be.

 

I am sure there are many,many caravanners who are towing with the spring-clip type clipped in and not looped back purely because they don't know any better,after all it seems the logical thing to do.

 

I was not aware of the difference until I attended a CC course.

 

Ian

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It baffles me as to why there are two kinds of cable,carabiner and the spring-clip type.

 

Why not just have the carabiner which can be used for both scenarios as need be.

 

I am sure there are many,many caravanners who are towing with the spring-clip type clipped in and not looped back purely because they don't know any better,after all it seems the logical thing to do.

 

I was not aware of the difference until I attended a CC course.

 

Ian

Agreed, I was taught on the B+E, I just assumed everybody knew this stuff.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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So if the tow ball parts company with the vehicle does the trailer leave the tow vehicle or not? and in this scenario how does the breakaway cable apply the brake?

 

Yes. The cable pulls on the brake, then snaps. The caravan comes to a graceful stop (and a lorry ploughs right through it on lane 1 of the M6).

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Well I replaced my snap clip Alko type as it was rusty and the plastic cover was split, exposing the core, with a cheap Carabiner type from Towsure for £4.(As I had fitted a cable bracket for the attachment of this type of breakaway cable) but due to the length, I pulled the cable back to stop it dragging on the floor. A few years later (June this year) I noticed during a trip down to Cornwall that the cable had been dragging on the road hence nothing was left of the cable. I then went to a caravan dealer close by to buy a new one, I took the old one with me. I am pleased I did, he gave me a replacement Alko Carabiner cable (£9. 95) which had a cable nearly 3 times thicker, the owner of the workshop who also services caravans, told me the cable was not suitable for a caravan.

 

He said if I had an accident and the caravan was the reason for a RTA death then the police cut the cable off the caravan and send it to Alko to confirm it is the right type (thickness). I fitted the new cable and towed further to another campsite again when I arrived the cable had been dragging on the floor, but no damage done to the core, so now I loop the cable round the ball like I used to with the clip type. I have checked other suppliers and find Alko cables are too long to just clip it to the bracket on the tow bar. So I will not be buying cheap alternatives again.

2013(13) Sorento KX2 2. 2 Diesel Manual, (With smelling clutch) Glittering Metal (Metallic Grey) dragging a 2020 Coachman VIP 520 with a Powrtouch Evolution Motor Mover (Towing @ 80. 0%) :)

 

1288275170_2019VIP.jpg.775f2d8ce7b26db242e04a2e77903cd0.jpg

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yes I found the cable was too long when clipped to the lug. That's why I fitted a loose carabiner and looped the cable through it and back on itself. Ended up the right length but you now have me worried if it's the right thickness. (Mind you I would be amazed if the one I have fitted snapped before applying the brake)

Mike

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If you have not already seen it, this kind of explains it. .. --> http://www. caravanchannel. co. uk/videos?vid=636

hmmmmm . ... good explanation of how the simpler type can fail, but bad advice in saying make sure you get a carabiner one exctly the same length as the older type if you are replacing it. If you do then the new one will likely drag on the ground.

Mike

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