Rule 98

Before towing. As a driver

  • you MUST NOT tow more than your licence permits. If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you are restricted on the weight of trailer you can tow
  • you MUST ensure that both your vehicle and your trailer are in a roadworthy condition. This includes checking that all tyres are legal, the trailer braking system is in full working order and all trailer lights are working correctly
  • you MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer. You should not tow a weight greater than that recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle
  • you should distribute the weight in your caravan or trailer evenly with heavy items over the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball. The manufacturer’s recommended weight and tow ball load should not be exceeded. This should minimise the possibility of swerving or snaking and loss of control
  • you MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously. Make sure any heavy or sharp objects and any animals are secured safely. If there is a collision, they might hit someone inside the vehicle and cause serious injury
  • if your vehicle is narrower than your trailer or load, or your trailer or load obstructs your rearward view, then towing mirrors MUST be used
  • your trailer MUST be fitted with a secondary coupling device, such as a safety chain
  • carrying a load or pulling a trailer may require you to adjust your headlights.

During towing. As a driver

  • you should be aware that reduced speed limits apply (see Rule 124)
  • you should be aware that your stopping distance may increase significantly when towing (see Rule 126)
  • you MUST NOT drive in the right-hand lane on motorways with three or more lanes (see Rule 265)
  • if the trailer starts to swerve or snake, or you lose control, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control. Do not brake harshly.

Breakdowns. In the event of a breakdown, be aware

  • that towing a vehicle on a tow rope is potentially dangerous. You should consider using a solid tow bar or professional recovery
  • it may take longer to build up speed when rejoining a carriageway (see also Rule 278).

For additional advice about towing safely, see Further reading.

Laws CUR regs 27, 33, 86a & 100, RVLR reg 18, MT(E&W)R reg 12 & MV(DL)R reg 6, 7, 76 & sched 2