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Towing Guidance
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This information is provided to help our customers understand the main considerations and responsibilities when towing trailers.  It is based on our experience and understanding of towing regulations.  However, it is always the drivers responsibility to validate (with the relevant government agencies, vehicle manufacturers etc) any information provided, as we can accept no liability for loss, damage or injury caused by errors or omissions.

Prior to towing a trailer you should check :

  • that your vehicle is capable of towing the trailer and it's load
  • that you have an appropriate driving licence
  • that the load is adequately secured
  • whether any other regulations may apply to your situation 

The following guidance should help you to answer these questions and direct you to the relevant agency web-site for further information. Or just  Contact Us  and we will be pleased to help . 

Most towing related regulations are summarised in a single publication, the SMMT's booklet 'Towing And The Law'.  This is available to buy at a cost of £6 from their website:

Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders Ltd

With every trailer we hire, we loan a copy of this booklet together with the Ifor Williams operating guide for the specific trailer you hire.

A current guide to towing regulations can be found at the www.gov.uk web-site. 

Note that you are not allowed to tow any trailer if driving on a provisional driving licence.

Hire Trailer Weights & Capacities - The hire rate tables on previous pages show each trailer on our hire fleet with an individual 'IWT Link'.  Clicking this link opens a new window where you will find the manufacturer's full specification for that trailer, including it's unladen weight and it's MAM (Gross Weight) .  Closing this window will then return you to our site. 

Safe & Secure Loading - Loads should be positioned on the trailer so the weight is positioned centrally over the axle(s) to maintain 25 -125 kg (as per trailer specification) of nose weight on the coupling / towball. Once in position the load should be securely restrained so it cannot move during your journey. We hold a range of ratchet straps, wheel straps, shoring poles, partition gates etc. These are provided as required with each hire at no additional charge.

Loads Over-Hanging Rear - The law allows loads to over-hang the rear of a trailer by up to 1m without using a marker.  Over-hangs between 1-2m require a marker such as a bright cloth being attached.  Over-hangs of 2-3m require a regulation marker board to be correctly fitted.  Over-hangs greater than 3m require police notification prior to starting your journey.

Loads Over-Hanging Sides - The law allows loads to over-hang the side of a trailer by up to 305mm without using a marker as long as the overall width does not exceed 2.55m.  Over-hangs greater than this require regulation marker boards to be correctly fitted and police notification prior to starting your journey. 

Loads Over-Hanging Front - A load over-hanging the front of the trailer needs to be positioned to ensure it does not connect with the rear of the tow vehicle when turning on full lock.

Please note : We strongly recommend the use of a marker board whenever there is any overhang and can provide boards at no extra charge when hiring from us.

The Welfare Of Animals In Transport - If you are transporting livestock you may be subject to The Welfare Of Animals (Transport) Order 1997 and other regulations.  These cover various aspects such as loading, restraining, as well as prevention of distress or injury.

Further information on these regulations can be found on the Defra web-site by searching on 'welfare of animals transport'.

Trailer condition and Maintenance - Unfortunately there is currently no MOT required for trailers in the UK.  The Government has indicated that this will change to bring us in-line with other EEC countries. 

Before any trailer is taken onto a public road the law currently requires that the braking and lighting systems must be working correctly and that it must be in good structural condition.

This may sound obvious but many trailers we see on the road are not maintained in such condition, risking the safety of the user, other road users and sometimes horses or livestock being transported.  If you have any doubt about the condition of a trailer, please do not use it.

Most of the trailers on our fleet are less than 24 months old and all are professionally maintained and serviced by Ifor Williams certified and trained staff. Trailers are cleaned and the lights, tyres and brakes checked before every hire. 

Speed & Lane Restrictions - When towing you are restricted to 60 mph on motorways and dual carriage ways and 50 mph on other roads provided that lower limits are not in operation.  Use of the outside (fast) lane of a 3 lane motorway is prohibited whilst towing, unless specifically directed to do so to avoid a road traffic accident or temporary roadworks.

Towing Dolly's And A-Frames - Towing dolly's and A-frames can be legally used to recover a broken down vehicle to a place of safety.  However, their legal use as an alternative to a trailer for general transportation of vehicles is very limited.

This is because in normal use they are regarded as any other trailer and as such require an approved over-run braking system when the MAM (trailer plus it's load) exceeds 750kg. To our knowledge no standard car has a MAM less than 750kg nor does any A-frame or dolly operate using an over-run braking system that meets UK towing regulations.  As such, we do not currently believe UK towing law allows the use of these devices for towing cars other than for purposes of recovery to a place of safety.

New To Towing ?

If you have never towed before, we will ensure you have the best equipment and are given guidance, so you are totally confident prior to leaving with your trailer.  If required, we have access to a 5 acre area where you can safely practice manouvering your vehicle and trailer prior to setting off on your journey.

Driver Awareness - Drive within your own capabilities and those of the vehicle being driven.  Reduce your speed well in advance of approaching any hazzard or change in direction.  Always keep within speed limits and be aware of any weather or road conditions that may affect safe driving.

It is good practice to check load straps are still tight and secure after a few miles of your journey.  Usually if they are still OK, they will stay secure for the rest of your journey.

Cornering - Braking should normally be applied when travelling in a straight line (i.e. before a bend in the road) with the vehicle speed being maintained as a bend is negotiated.  This will help to ensure the trailer remains stable throughout the bend. 

When a trailer is wider than the tow vehicle, leave additional space when overtaking cyclists, pedestrians or parked vehicles.  Also leave additional space at the apex of a corner so that the wider trailer does not clip the kerb.

Reversing - Considered by many as the most difficult element to master, reversing a trailer takes a bit of practice and understanding some basic theory.  The basic principle when reversing is that first of all you need to get the trailer to point in the direction you want it to go.  You achieve this by reversing your vehicle to push the front of the trailer left to make the rear of the trailer go right and vice versa.  Once you have the trailer pointing in the right direction gently steer the vehicle to follow the trailer.

It is easier to reverse a flatbed trailer as you can see over the top.  When reversing a horse box, box van or stock trailer, you are limited to visability through your side mirrors only. 

We always recommend that when reversing, travel as slowly as possible to give yourself time to think about the steering.  Also use an assistant to watch your reversing progress and pass instructions to you on direction, distance and obstructions.