Rules for towing a boat

  1. When towing a trailer you are restricted to a maximum speed of 50mph on single carriageway roads, and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways, provided no lower limit is in force. In the UK you are not allowed to use the outside lane of a three or more, lane motorway when towing, except where there are lane closures which restrict the lanes to two or less, or when instructed to do so by the Police.
  2. If you tow a small trailer without brakes, the weight of the trailer is limited to 50% of the kerb weight of the car or 750kg, whichever is less.
  3. When towing larger trailers that have brakes fitted, the weight of the vehicle should not (as a rule of thumb) exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle. If brakes are fitted they must work whether they are a legal requirement or not.
  4. Most vehicle manufacturers state the maximum towing limit in their hand books, but you must bear in mind the total weight including passengers and luggage, also any items put in the caravan or trailer. The weight can soon add up.
  5. You must be licensed to tow. You need C1 to drive vehicles exceeding 3.5t mam (Maximum Authorised Mass) with a trailer exceeding 750kgs mam and B+E to drive a car/car derived van or small goods vehicle not exceeding 3.5t mam pulling a trailer exceeding 750kgs mam up to the gross train weight of the vehicle concerned.
  6. Whilst towing you must have third party cover for your trailer as well as for the tow car.
  7. If you are towing a boat with an outboard motor you must use a reinforced plastic bag or bucket or the propeller and outboard legs. Similarly masts there must be no sharp edges which could cause injury.
  8. The lightboard should be no more than 1.5m from the ground or 2.1m if the structure of the vehicle makes it impracticable. Indicators must flash in unison with those of the towcar and a dashboard warning light or buzzer must be fitted.
  9. The number plate on the trailer must be identical in shape, and colour to that on the towcar.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Beanie:

    You forgot the most important issue with towing. Whether your towing for private or business, with a train weight 3.5ton or more you must have a digital tacho fitted.

  2. Bru:

    With regards to tachos, if you are towing for your own “domestic” purposes or in connection with voluntary activities (i.e. moving your own boat) you do NOT need a tacho. We have this confirmed in writing by DVLA. In fact, in our case this was with regard to the towing of heavy duty kit trailers with our own Landies in connection with canal restoration work (the restoration group’s own vans are fitted with tachos but the cost of fitting a tacho into my own Landie was simply not worth it) which is beyond domestic use.

    However, there is a caveat! Just trying to explain this to the average copper or VOSA operative at the roadside!! I would suggest getting, as we did, written confirmation of this from the DVLA and keeping it in the vehicle at all times

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