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Common towing laws you need to know

Towing requires additional knowledge and skill. All trailers including caravans will affect the performance of a towing vehicle. Whether you are planning to tow with your caravan, move a trailer load or perform commercial towing, you will have the freedom to do what you want, where you want. But to be able to enjoy that freedom, there are a couple of important towing rules that must be observed, to bring order and sanity on the roads.

Here are some common towing laws you need to adhere to.


Rules of towing

Towing more than one trailer at a time is not allowed. On the same note, nobody is allowed to ride in trailers or caravans. If you are towing on a road without street lights, you have to drive at least 60 meters behind heavy vehicles and other vehicles towing trailers, unless overtaking. P1 car license holders can tow small trailers with up to a maximum of 250 kg of unloaded weight.


The Driver

Driving with a trailer takes practice to master. Drivers should allow sufficient distances for overtaking, braking or joining a traffic stream. If you are reversing, it is advisable to have a guider outside giving you directions. You should avoid sudden lane change and change of direction. Observe all traffic rules and look further ahead to react to changes in traffic or road conditions.


The Towing Vehicle

Towing vehicles used must be well suited and compatible with the trailer. Vehicle manufacturers normally indicate in the owner’s manual the maximum load weight and other features of trailers that are appropriate for the vehicle. These limits should always be observed and never exceeded. All towing vehicles used must comply with relevant standards set for roadworthiness. Vehicles must be appropriately equipped with tow bars and coupling of suitable capacity and type.


A tow bar that is properly designed and well fitted would be essential for towing. The rated capacity of the tow bar and coupling should never be exceeded. The tow bar must be clearly and permanently marked with its maximum rated capacity as well as its make and model. Tow bars must not protrude dangerously when there is no trailer connected.


The Trailer

Trailers must be of suitable size and type for their intended task. They must be built to meet the standards for registration. The loaded mass of the trailer must not exceed the lesser of the rated capacity of the tow bar and tow coupling, the highest tow capacity of the vehicle, the maximum allowed capacity of the trailer, and the maximum rated carrying capacity of the tires.


Loading Trailers

It is important to ensure trailers are not overloaded. Additionally, the load should be properly secured and distributed. A load must not be protruding or projecting more than 150mm beyond the trailer’s width. Loads that project more than 1.2m behind a trailer must have a red flag attached to the end of the load. The flag must be at least 300mm square and visible. To reduce sway, heavy loads need to be concentrated towards the center of the trailer.

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