Key driving skills
Light motor vehicles
On a learner or restricted car licence (Class 1) you can tow a trailer but the combined weight of your vehicle, the trailer and its load must not exceed 4500kg.
On a full licence the combined weight of your vehicle, the trailer and its load must not exceed 6000kg.
Tractors and agricultural vehicles
On a restricted or full car licence you can drive an agricultural tractor-trailer combination of up to 25,000kg providing you do not exceed 40km/h.
On a full car licence you can also drive:
- a tractor/trailer combination of up to 25,000kg if being used for non-agricultural purposes at a speed of up to 30km/h, or
- an agricultural tractor-trailer combination of up to 25,000kg being driven at a speed of up to 40km/h.
See page 13–18 for more information about what you can drive on different licence classes.
You must take extra care when towing a trailer or another vehicle. This is because, with the extra weight behind it, your vehicle will feel different to drive.
Follow the safe towing guidelines on these pages whenever you tow a trailer or another vehicle.
Note: the term ‘trailer’ includes caravans, and boat and horse trailers.
If you are towing a trailer or another vehicle, check your rear-view mirror often to make sure you aren't holding up vehicles behind you.
Safe towing guidelines
- Refer to the car manufacturer's recommendations before towing a trailer, in particular the weight limits recommended.
- Refer to the loading limits for the tow bar you are using.
- Be aware that overloading and uneven loading of car trailers can seriously affect a car's handling.
- When driving a light vehicle (for example, a car or light truck), you must not tow more than one trailer or vehicle at a time.
- You must be able to see behind the towed trailer or vehicle. If you can't see behind with your rear-view mirrors, you may need to fit a special mirror.
- There must be no more than 4 metres between your vehicle and the trailer or vehicle it is towing.
- The maximum speed for a light vehicle towing a trailer on the open road is 90 km/h.
- The maximum speed for towing a motorcycle is 30 km/h.
- You must not tow a motorcycle unless it is mechanically disabled.
- At night, the back of the trailer/towed vehicle must show a red light.
- If you're towing a disabled vehicle at night, its headlights must light up the towing connection.
- Remember, you will be slower and less stable than other traffic when towing. Check behind often to see if other vehicles are held
up behind you.
- If the road is winding or narrow and vehicles can't pass you, stop at a safe place and let them pass.
- Leave more space than usual between your vehicle and the one in front, so that others can pass you.
- Remember that the added weight behind you means you will need more space to stop.
- Increase your following distance from two seconds to four seconds.
- The towing connection and safety chain or cable that holds the trailer/vehicle must be secured safe and strong.
- If you are towing another vehicle without a rigid towing system, eg with a rope or a strop, the maximum allowable speed is 50km/h.
- If you are towing another vehicle with a rigid towing connection the maximum speed is 90km/h.
When towing a horse trailer, take extra care as the horse may move – especially when you brake or travel around corners – and
this could affect the movement of the trailer.
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Last updated: 29 May 2013