Basic towing law issues

When towing you are automatically restricted to a maximum speed of 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways, except where a lower general speed limit applies. Also you are not permitted in the outside lane of a motorway where there are three lanes or more.

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations limits you to towing an unbraked trailer with a MAM not exceeding 750kg or half the kerbweight of the towing vehicle, whichever is less. Where a trailer is fitted with brakes, even if the trailer does not exceed 750kg, those brakes must work properly.

Vehicle manufacturers also quote towing limits and these are normally given in the vehicle handbook. If only one towing limit is given assume it is for a braked trailer. The best way to check the braked trailer limit for a motorhome is to inspect the weight plate on the vehicle. The weight plate, which usually also carries the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), is normally located under the bonnet or on one of the door pillars.

For coachbuilt motorhomes be sure to use the convertor’s plate (or AL-KO plate where the base vehicle rear chassis has been substituted with an AL-KO chassis) in case the original specified loadings as indicated on the base vehicle manufacturer’s plate have been amended. The top figure on the plate is the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and the second figure down is the gross train weight (GTW). The GTW is the maximum combined weight of towing vehicle and trailer that is permitted. The difference between the GTW and GVW is your towing limit when the vehicle is fully loaded.

Do not be surprised if the towing limit given by the convertor is considerably less than the original base vehicle manufacturer’s limit. This can be a result of the convertor increasing the original GVW or the GTW can be reduced due to rear chassis extensions. Although these extensions are adequate for the habitation load, they often cannot sustain the same trailer load as the original short chassis. Sometimes the base vehicle’s original towing limit is reduced by half or more.

An unbraked trailer must have a secondary coupling that will keep the trailer attached to the towing vehicle if the primary coupling fails. Braked trailers up to 3,500kg must be fitted with a breakaway cable that will operate the trailer brakes if the primary coupling fails. Alternatively a braked trailer up to 1,500kg may have a secondary coupling (such as a strong chain) fitted.

More hints and tips

Driving Licences

Basic driving licences (category B) gained since 1 January 1997 provide an entitlement to drive a vehicle with a MAM of up…

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