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Road Users

Towing a broken-down vehicle

Information and answers to frequently asked question relating to towing a broken-down vehicle.

This content is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters it addresses.

Frequently asked questions

Towing a broken-down vehicle

See Table below.

 

B Licence

BE Licence

A trailer whose design gross vehicle weight is not more than 750 kg, or

A trailer whose design gross vehicle weight is not more than 3,500 kg, or

If the trailer’s design gross vehicle weight is more than 750 kg but the design gross combination weight of the vehicle + trailer does not exceed 3,500 kg.

If the trailer’s design gross vehicle weight is more than 750 kg and is not more than 3,500 kg but the design gross combination weight of the vehicle + trailer does not exceed 7,000 kg

 

Yes, but only to bring it to the nearest place of safety or repair.

Any drawbar, chain or other towing device including any special fitting for the attachment of such drawbar, chain, or towing device.

A vehicle which is being towed as a result of a breakdown. However, it should only be towed in the event that no professional towing service is available.

Yes. The towed vehicle will be treated as a trailer. However, regulations for lifting devices fall under the remit of the HSA and you should contact them for more information.

There is no law against towing a broken-down vehicle using a rope or chain, provided it is strong enough to withstand the demands of towing a vehicle and it is only used to bring the broken-down vehicle to the nearest place of safety or repair.

If the broken-down vehicle is blocking traffic or likely to cause an accident it should immediately be towed to the nearest place of safety or repair and contact a recovery operator who will transport the vehicle safely there.

Yes, but the speed must not exceed 32 km/h. and only towed to the nearest convenient place of safety or repair.

We advise against this. If a vehicle breaks down on the motorway try to move it to the hard shoulder, switch on your hazard lights and contact a vehicle recovery operator.

A vehicle towing, whether it be a trailer or broken-down vehicle must not exceed 80 km/h. If a lower speed limit sign is posted this must be obeyed at all times.

Towing a vehicle with an A-frame or towing dolly

Towing Devices

Description

A-frame

This is a lightweight frame attached from the towing points of a towed vehicle to the ball type coupling on a towing vehicle.

A Towing dolly

This is a lightweight trailer-like frame with wheels, ramps and winch which is attached to the coupling of a towing vehicle and used to elevate and transport a vehicle.

 

Yes. But you must hold an appropriate driving licence and ensure that the vehicle’s towing capacity is high enough to tow this weight.

Yes. Provided your towing vehicle has a sufficient towing capacity and you hold the relevant category BE driving licence. Contact vehicle manufacturer to obtain the towing capacity for your vehicle.

 Yes. The maximum legal speed limit for towing an A-frame on a motorway is 80 km/h. If a lower speed limit sign is posted then this must be obeyed at all times. You must also hold the appropriate driving licence.

Yes. You must always stay in the left lane. You should not enter the right lane or lane nearest the central median unless there is an obstruction in the left lane and if so, you must warn traffic accordingly.

Yes, but by law towing a broken-down vehicle is the same as towing a trailer so the following rules apply:

  • Carrying capacity: The weight of the broken-down vehicle cannot be more than the carrying capacity of the towing device if one is used e.g. A-Frame, towing dolly, drawbar etc.
  • Towing capacity: The weight of both the broken-down vehicle and the towing device cannot be more than the manufacturer’s rated towing capacity for your vehicle.
  • Licence: The driver of the towing vehicle must be the holder of category BE licence and the driver steering the broken-down vehicle must also hold the appropriate licence for that vehicle.