Q558: What are the rules relating to the use of tow ropes?
When one vehicle is towing another with a rope or chain the maximum distance allowed between them is 4.5 metres.
If the distance between the two vehicles exceeds 1.5 metres then the rope or chain must be made clearly visible within a reasonable distance from either side to other road users. This is usually done by tying a coloured flapping cloth in the middle of the rope or chain.
Additionally, you need to be aware that:
- The towed vehicle must be taxed, registered and insured hand an MOT (if required) and the person driving it must hold the appropriate driving licence for that category of vehicle.
- Make sure the person driving the towing vehicle has a licence that covers them to drive the combination of vehicles – legally a towed vehicle remains a motor vehicle but is also a trailer when towed.
- If it is dark then the broken down vehicle must have its lights on as it would under normal circumstances.
- Tell the insurance companies of the vehicles what you are going to do beforehand in case there are any implications for the insurance cover.
- Towing a vehicle is potentially very dangerous and should only be done for the minimum distance necessary.
- We would suggest that towing a vehicle should always be done by professional recovery companies/garages who have the appropriate equipment, training and experience.
- You should never tow on a motorway.