Towing is difficult and demands more skill and knowledge than regular driving. You should avoid towing in confined spaces or at high speeds until you have gained enough experience to feel confident in your ability to tow.
When towing, drive carefully and be prepared for changes in stability, steering and braking capacity due to the additional weight/length.
To safely and legally tow, there are several things you must check before towing:
- Check your vehicle’s towing rating to ensure that it may tow the weight of the trailer/caravan legally
- Check that the couplings can take the weight of the fully loaded trailer
- Check that the safety chains are short enough to prevent the trailer’s front from hitting the ground in case the couplings break
- Check your vehicle (e.g. tyres, suspension and brakes)
- Distribute the bulk of the load over the axles
Restraining the load
The driver is legally responsible for ensuring that all loads are securely restrained and positioned correctly. Also, ensure that any load overhang is legal.
You must periodically check that your trailer/load is safe throughout the trip.
A vehicle including a trailer will be much longer than usual. This means:
- you may need additional turning space when making turns
- you must be careful to avoid swaying of the trailer, which is particularly important in wet/slippery conditions. If the trailer starts to sway - accelerate or remain at a steady speed and avoid unnecessary braking
- keep to the left to avoid obstructing other traffic
Towing another vehicle
When towing another vehicle the towline must not be longer than 4m, and 3m when towing a motorcycle.
Tow lines must be fitted with a flag or bright cloth to increase visibility. Make sure that the towing connection is safe.
- Don’t tow more than one trailer or vehicle
- Ensure that no passenger is riding in the trailer or caravan while it is being towed
- If the road has no street lights - drive at least 60m behind any heavy vehicle or vehicle towing a caravan (unless overtaking)
- When towing another vehicle at night, it’s lights must be on