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Motorway - towing

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Motorway - towing

Just wondered.... have done many many miles of motorway driving, and have seen many many cars on the hard shoulder awaiting "assistance".... The "usual suspects" AA RAC and local tow trucks seem to deal with most "removals".... but I wondered,....
Is it illegal to hitch a tow rope to a broken down car, and tow it off the motorway (to next junction)... as I have not seen it happening...  (ie one private car towing another.... or one van towing another)
I have no need of this as I do have "roadside rescue" service in place...
12 REPLIES
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Re: Motorway - towing

It's been hard to find a definitive answer to this: Can't find anything in the highway code...
It seems legal as long as you adhere to all the usual rules regarding towing including maximum speed, exclusion from right-hand lane on a 3+ carriageway, etc.
A post on the RAC site suggests that you can only be towed if you actually broke down on the motorway. How the police would prove otherwise isn't mentioned unless they actually saw you enter the motorway.
Some people mention that a rope can't be used others say it can but there seem to be maximum (4.5m) and minimum (1.5m) lengths allowed.

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Midnight_Caller
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Re: Motorway - towing

I don't drive, but I'm pretty certain that you can tow a car or van with your own vehicle on the motorway.
[Edit]
@Mav,  you beet me to it
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Re: Motorway - towing

Must admit I have never seen anyone towing a car or van on the motorway but I do recall reading that the Police would only give you so long to remove your vehicle or they would remove it and charge you.
This does not answer the question asked but even if it is legal the person towing you would have to reach you within a short space of time.
There is also the question of speed, how slow would you be allowed to go bearing in mind stopping distances if using a rope which I guess would not be allowed.
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Re: Motorway - towing

I should imagine that the objective would be to get the vehicle off at the next exit.
No minimum speed limit but I would expect the ol' bill to pull you over after a while if you were deemed to be a danger to other drivers.
I wouldn't like to tow a vehicle for too far on a motorway - bad enough when I did it on the roads around London  Shocked

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Re: Motorway - towing

I've been towed to the nearest rest area by a police car with a tow rope (about 5 miles)
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Re: Motorway - towing

I heard it was illegal to use a tow rope on a motorway but as previously stated i've never seen it in the highway code.
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pierre_pierre
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Re: Motorway - towing

just looking through Highway code
Quote
268
Do not overtake on the left or move to a lane on your left to overtake. In congested conditions, where adjacent lanes of traffic are moving at similar speeds, traffic in left-hand lanes may sometimes be moving faster than traffic to the right. In these conditions you may keep up with the traffic in your lane even if this means passing traffic in the lane to your right. Do not weave in and out of lanes to overtake.

driving licence http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/CaravansTrailersCommercialVehicles/DG_4022564
apparently this is from the 1986 regs
Quote
MV (Con and Use) regs

Length of Tow Rope
Where a trailer is attached to the vehicle immediately in front of it solely by means of a rope or chain, the distance between the trailer and that vehicle shall not in any case exceed 4.5m, and shall not exceed 1.5m unless the rope or chain is made clearly visible to any other person using the road within a reasonable distance from either side.
Towing by motor cycle
- (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a person shall not use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road a motor cycle -
(a) drawing behind it more than one trailer;
(b) drawing behind it any trailer carrying a passenger;
(c) drawing behind it a trailer with an unladen weight exceeding 254 kg;
(d) with not more than 2 wheels, without a sidecar, and with an engine capacity which does not exceed 125 cc, drawing behind it any trailer; or
(e) with not more than 2 wheels, without a sidecar and with an engine capacity exceeding 125 cc, drawing behind it any trailer unless -
(i) the trailer has an overall width not exceeding 1m;
(ii) the distance between the rear axle of the motor cycle and the rearmost part of the trailer does not exceed 2.5m;
(iii) the motor cycle is clearly and indelibly marked in a conspicuous and readily accessible position with its kerbside weight;
(iv) the trailer is clearly and indelibly marked in a conspicuous and readily accessible position with its unladen weight; and
(v) the laden weight of the trailer does not exceed 150 kg or two thirds of the kerbside weight of the motor cycle, whichever is the less.
(2) Paragraph (1)(b), (d) and (e) do not apply if the trailer is a broken-down motor cycle and one passenger is riding it.
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Re: Motorway - towing

Interesting discussion by those who should know Wink
http://www.ukpoliceonline.co.uk/index.php?/topic/23287-are-tow-ropes-now-illegal/
I must admit I always understood that a tow bar should be used on a motorway rather than a tow rope.
A good point was made in the above linked forum that brakes and steering are less effective in a towed vehicle in many cases so a tow bar would be a distinct advantage Lips are sealed
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pierre_pierre
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Re: Motorway - towing

out of interest Willi at the Fusch Garriage used to tow off the Gross Glockner with this Jeep and a Fouwheel  drive estate car(cant rememer the make), with his vehicle behind and the broken down in front
Denzil
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Re: Motorway - towing

As far as I am aware, you can still use a tow rope. The rope itself and the vehicle mounting points must be of suitable quality, and you are expected to drive with appropriate caution. On a motorway I think the guideline is that you are expected only to tow to the nearest place of safety, i.e. the next exit or services. Rigid tow bars are recommended because there is less chance of the driver behind smashing into the towing car.
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Re: Motorway - towing

The fact that most vehicles (other than motorcycles) have servo-assisted braking (and usually, steering) means that a tow rope is problematical anyway since slowing down the brokendown is difficult (impossible in an emergency). A solid bar tow much preferred unless the breakdown does not stop the engine running. I do remember once being astonished by the sight of a large Jaguar towing another by rope in the fast lane of the M4, probably exceeding the speed limit!!  Could not tell if car2 was running his/her engine!!!
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Re: Motorway - towing

Quote from: colintivy
I do remember once being astonished by the sight of a large Jaguar towing another by rope in the fast lane of the M4, probably exceeding the speed limit!!

Shocked
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