What the law says about towing
If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 you can tow any size trailer on your car (providing the vehicle's gross combinational weight is not exceeded). If you gained your full license after that date you can tow trailers weighing up to 750kg, or larger provided that the vehicle and trailer together don't exceed 3.5 tonnes. For towing outside those restrictions you will need to pass an additional test.
Your trailer must carry an approved rear number plate with the same number as the towing vehicle, illuminated at night. It must also have running lights, brake lights, a fog light, reflectors, and indicators operating at 60 to 120 flashes per minute. The tow vehicle must have have a warning device to confirm that the trailer indicators work. This can be either a buzzer or a flashing light.
Tyre regulations for trailers are essentially the same as for towing vehicles, but the tyres and wheels must be capable of carrying the maximum laden weight of the trailer at the maximum speed limit.
To tow with an ordinary vehicle (i.e. not a goods vehicle) the trailer body (not including the drawbar) must not exceed 7m in length and 2.3m in width.
What about speed limits?
Some speed limits are reduced when towing. On roads that normally have 70mph limit, you are restricted to 60mph, whilst on single lane roads wit a 60mph limit, the towing limit is 50mph. Elsewhere, normal limits apply. On motorways, vehicles that are towing may only use the inside and centre lanes.
What about towing abroad?
It's worth checking the motoring regulations for each country you will be passing through, because they differ from one to another. Certain items, such as a red warning triangle, must be carried everywhere.
What about insurance?
You should check with your insurance that you are covered for towing . Green card insurance is recommended if you tow abroad.
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- Alan Swan
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