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Are tow ropes now illegal?


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#1 earthman

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 07:58 PM

I've just read in the paper that a tow rope is now illegal here in the UK???
It was in the motoring section, all about tips and items you should have when motoring abroad, see quote below.


"In Croatia, it is not only compulsory to have a set of replacement bulbs (common throughout Europe) but also a tow rope (now illegal here) or pole."

#2 M.I.A

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 10:30 PM

havent heard anything about this...maybe one of the traffic officer can answer this one fully

#3 oldbillplod

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 11:23 PM

I've just read in the paper that a tow rope is now illegal here in the UK???
It was in the motoring section, all about tips and items you should have when motoring abroad, see quote below.


"In Croatia, it is not only compulsory to have a set of replacement bulbs (common throughout Europe) but also a tow rope (now illegal here) or pole."


You read this in the metro free newspaper didn't you? I woldn't believe anything they said.

Edited by oldbillplod, 27 March 2008 - 11:24 PM.


#4 PCPump

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 11:35 PM

You read this in the metro free newspaper didn't you? I woldn't believe anything they said.


If it helps, my motor factor (established well over 30 years) has had to stop selling tow ropes and sell tow bars instead and they said it's illegal now.

I don't know myself.

#5 Traffic Rat

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:23 AM

My unit have not heard anything regarding this but hey whats new, we're usually the last to know !!!

#6 grobson

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:28 AM

I've not heard this either and I've just received my Hughes Traffic Guide updates and that doesn't mention anything about tow ropes being illegal now. Plus I've seen them in plenty of petrol stations still on sale.

#7 Traffic Rat

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:37 AM

Just looked elsewhere and again this has been asked and the answer is No.

This is from the Police National Legal Database:

"When the vehicles are attached solely by a rope or chain, the maximum distance allowed between the vehicles 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.

The person in the broken down vehicle must be a qualified driver as he is actually driving the vehicle. A further point is that if it is dark then the broken down vehicle must have its lights on as it would under normal circumstances."

Note: Vehicles are only to be towed on motorways, for the minimum distance necessary, to reach a place of safety where recovery may be effected by a recovery vehicle.

And from Avon & Somerset Police Website :

There is no minimum length of tow rope or chain but the maximum length is 4.5m. Any tow rope longer than 1.5m must be marked to alert other road users. One way of doing this is to attach one or more brightly coloured ties to the rope. The law does not specify the type of rope or chain to be used.

Edited by Traffic Rat, 28 March 2008 - 10:40 AM.


#8 Soren

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 10:40 AM

I suppose like anything else they have to be fit for purpose.

I recall towing with all sorts of bits of rope back in the 70s, often as not the towed car would judder and snap the rope, leaving the towed vehicle stranded in the middle of the road. :blush:

Times have moved on. If I found anyone towing at 50mph on a dual carriageway using some plastic clothes line (doubled over for added strength :wacko: ) I'd be looking at unsuitable use.

#9 earthman

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:29 PM

Note: Vehicles are only to be towed on motorways, for the minimum distance necessary, to reach a place of safety where recovery may be effected by a recovery vehicle.


Are you 100% sure about that? I always thought that it were illegal to tow a vehicle with a rope on a motorway period.

Edited by earthman, 28 March 2008 - 12:48 PM.


#10 Bart

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 01:30 PM

Are you 100% sure about that? I always thought that it were illegal to tow a vehicle with a rope on a motorway period.



Our vehicles have tow straps, we are allowed to move vehicles to a place of safety. So if a car breaks down in a live lane, we can tow it to safety.

#11 blueb

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 04:55 PM

ayone towing at 50mph on a dual carriageway using some plastic clothes line (doubled over for added strength :wacko: ) I'd be looking at unsuitable use.


What has the type of tow rope got to do with the vehicle's speed. If the tow rope is 'unsuitable' at 15mph, thenit is also unsuitable at 93mph.
As for deciding what is unsuitable is a ral case of decide on the day.
I am sure you meant to reflect on the problem with the towed vehicle at 50mph rather than the tow rope.
bearing in mind, most vehicle brakes only have a couple of assisted applications before they resort to simple hydraulics, and steering assistance usualy stops when the engine does.

#12 xray1983

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:19 PM

Regardless of the whether a rope is or isn't illegal, from personal experience and preference a tow bar is far safer, and if possible an a-frame.

#13 Soren

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 06:31 AM

What has the type of tow rope got to do with the vehicle's speed. If the tow rope is 'unsuitable' at 15mph, thenit is also unsuitable at 93mph.

Hmmm...

I cited an example for which I would consider the C&U or RTA offence. I probably wouldn't consider it if the chap's wife was simply towing him back 40 or 50 yards to his house drive at 5 or 10mph with an unsuitable rope.
So, as far as I'm concerned there absolutely is a relevance in the speed and purpose of use.

As for deciding what is unsuitable is a ral case of decide on the day.

I think you're getting there... :wink:

I am sure you meant to reflect on the problem with the towed vehicle at 50mph rather than the tow rope.
bearing in mind, most vehicle brakes only have a couple of assisted applications before they resort to simple hydraulics, and steering assistance usualy stops when the engine does.

No, I considered the offences of 'unsuitable use' such as this one...

"100(3) No motor vehicle or trailer shall be used for any purpose for which it is so unsuitable as to cause or be likely to cause danger (see note below) or nuisance to any person in or on the vehicle or trailer or on a road."

or this one...

40A A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on a road when:

(a) the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment, or
(b) the purpose for which it is used, or
© the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried, or
(d) the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured,

is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person.

...and decided on a set of circumstances where I would consider applying them.

What part of this are you having difficulty with?

#14 blueb

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:29 AM

Regardless of the whether a rope is or isn't illegal, from personal experience and preference a tow bar is far safer, and if possible an a-frame.


Only thing to consider when using rigid or Aframe is that all the braking has to be done by the towing vehicle, and for to typical tow being done by the average car.

#15 blueb

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:36 AM

Hmmm...
What part of this are you having difficulty with?


As I read the comment it appeared that the dang cond issue would arise simply because of an increase of speed, yet using the same tow rope.

#16 earthman

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:02 PM

Our vehicles have tow straps, we are allowed to move vehicles to a place of safety. So if a car breaks down in a live lane, we can tow it to safety.


Yes but I understand that you (HATO) guys can only tow a vehicle to the hard shoulder, you can't tow it from the hard shoulder to the next exit like the AA/RAC can because you don't have a 'towing licence' like they have.
Is this right or have I been wound up about this 'towing licence'?


So I'm really left wondering what Joe Blogs the motorist can do, if you read that statement below does it mean that I could tow a car from the hard shoulder to the next exit? If so, what't this towing licence, is it just something recovery services have to have for rules & regs reasons?
Surely it don't mean I can only tow from a lane to hard shoulder like the HATO's can, that's dangerous for them guy's to do let alone me without help & flashing lights, traffic cones etc?

By the way, I do keep a proper tow rope in the boot and am only thinking about emergency use, ie to get a car off a motorway at the next exit from hopefully the hard shoulder. I would not fancy towing in any other situation.

Note: Vehicles are only to be towed on motorways, for the minimum distance necessary, to reach a place of safety where recovery may be effected by a recovery vehicle.

#17 Soren

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:34 PM

Note: Vehicles are only to be towed on motorways, for the minimum distance necessary, to reach a place of safety where recovery may be effected by a recovery vehicle.


Which is exactly the same allowance as with A-frames.

#18 kenworthy

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:12 PM

Firstly, is there a speed limit on towing a vehilce ?, i ask as one passed me by yesterday by at least 10 MPH, i was doing 62 MPH.

Secondly, one would think from what i witnessed last night, that the police may well stop someone doing 72MPH+ with a tow rope about 6 feet in length, if first vehicle stops suddenly, i cannot see second one stopping quite as quickly. They continued up M6 i went East on M62.

#19 explodJP

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:18 AM

At the speed you mention passing you on tow then I would say that would be dangerous (S2a (b)) RTA 91 and would be bcaked up by S42 RTA 91 as it would not meet braking requirements (lack of servo assistance)

''Towing licence'' This is April 1 isnt it ?

What is place of safety ?

#20 Soren

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:22 AM

Firstly, is there a speed limit on towing a vehilce ?, i ask as one passed me by yesterday by at least 10 MPH, i was doing 62 MPH.


The general speed limit for cars towing trailers is 60 on the motorway and dual carriageway and 50 on other NSL roads.

I've seen no legislation that prescriptively specifies a lower speed at which a rope towed vehicle should be pulled. (that doesn't mean it doesn't exist :wink:)

Anything trailing another vehicle on a motorway at over 60mph is committing an offence. Most coaches are restricted to 60mph too :nono: :wink:.

The other issues relating to towing a vehicle are...
Is the towing vehicle suitable/capable?
Does the drivers licence allow him to tow such a combination?
Is the entire combination suitable for the purpose of use?


Secondly, one would think from what i witnessed last night, that the police may well stop someone doing 72MPH+ with a tow rope about 6 feet in length, if first vehicle stops suddenly, i cannot see second one stopping quite as quickly. They continued up M6 i went East on M62.


careless/dangerous driving
exceeding the speed limit
unsuitable use
towing weight issues
possible driver licence issues
etc etc...




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