Six weeks after Queensland Police began an awareness campaign on correctly loading caravans, a police operation in Longreach has found nine out of 10 caravans are overweight.
At the beginning of June, when the campaign began around the state, Road Policing Group acting superintendent Adam Muir found 80 per cent of the vans weighed on the Bruce Highway at Gympie had been incorrectly loaded.
This week's statistics from Longreach show that the awareness campaign still has a way to go in reducing the number of overloaded and poorly loaded caravans on regional Queensland roads.
According to constable Chris Curtis, who was manning the weighing station at Longreach, of the people who have responded to the messaging and think they're doing the right thing, either by getting their van weighed by itself on the showroom floor or by doing it themselves with a cheap weighing instrument, many are being misled.
"What we do is weigh the car and van together then get them to unhook the van and just weigh the car," he said.
"This way, we show them the weight that the car is bearing.
"People are finding a big difference between the weight they were given when they bought the van and the weight we show hooked up on the road."
According to the Road Policing Group, overweight and poorly loaded caravans and tow vehicles are contributing to nearly half the number of traffic crashes in Queensland where the vehicle towing the caravan is at fault.
Const Curtis said the way to think about a van's weight was to include not only personal belongings but anything added, such as boats, pushbikes, generators, and water.
"You fill 200l water tanks and 200kg of your 500kg payload is gone," he said. "Some people have taken their vans back to the manufacturers as a result of this extra knowledge, and played with it until they got the weight correct."
He also discovered on Monday some vehicles that were overweight, without the van being added on.
"One today, a 200 Series Landcruiser, had just the usual accessories but they were all steel," he said.
At the moment, while it's an offence to be overloaded, police are concentrating on building recognition around safety measures required for caravan weights.
"We're not ticketing anyone today - it's about coming in and getting your van weighed to see if you're overweight or not," Const Curtis said. "At the moment it's all about education, but there may come a time when you could incur a fine for being overweight."
He said one of the bigger issues at play was that insurance companies were starting to look at whether caravans were overloaded in determining payouts.
Far from complaining about being pulled over to be weighed, Const Curtis said people were loving the feedback.
"I've had a couple of Victorian travellers say they were being very careful because they'd heard about this happening in Queensland - that's a good thing, it means the word is spreading," he said.
"The trouble is, while I'm weighing one van, another 20 are driving past.
"Longreach's population triples at this time of year - we get people here from all over Australia.
"There's just not enough facilities to do it comprehensively."
He said the majority of crashes involving caravans he'd attended recently had come about as the result of inattention on the van driver's part.
"It's been people who are looking for a turnoff, or looking at an attraction, not at the traffic or the road," he said.
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