Ireland’s confusing towing rules explained

Popular: Skoda Ireland says 22 per cent of its new cars in 2015 were ordered with factory-fitted towing systemsPopular: Skoda Ireland says 22 per cent of its new cars in 2015 were ordered with factory-fitted towing systems

It’s common on Irish roads to see a car towing a trailer while clipping along at the 120km/h speed limit, despite the fact that the legal speed limit for towing a trailer is just 80km/h.

Speed is just one of the regulations concerning trailer use that are frequently flaunted. The laws and licensing for trailer use are complicated and at times confusing. The reality is that many drivers are towing trailers without the proper licence, despite the risk of incurring penalty points and potentially voiding their insurance cover. With trailer use, weight is the key.

What can I tow on my car licence? On a standard B car licence you can tow a trailer that has a maximum authorised mass (Mam) of 750kg; this includes the weight of both the trailer and its load. (A trailer’s technical specifications are stamped on a metal plate attached to it.) You can also tow a trailer and load weighing more than 750kg as long as the combined weight of the vehicle and loaded trailer does not exceed 3,500kg. A “type 01”, “unbraked” trailer does not need a braking mechanism. This trailer is likely to be small – when it is empty you could manhandle it with little effort – with, usually, just one axle.

Can I tow a horsebox on a car licence? According to the Road Safety Authority, “As a general rule a category B licence does not entitle the holder to tow a horsebox or a livestock trailer, because the combined Mam would exceed 3,500kg.” But this is not always the case. Again, as long as the total weight of the car, trailer and load carried does not exceed 3,500kg you can drive it on a B licence. For example, a Skoda Octavia family estate towing a “type 02” trailer – one with a Mam of more than 750kg – with two bulls weighs in at 3,085kg combined, but the same trailer and livestock towed by a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV weighs in at 4,440kg, well over the 3,500kg B-licence limit.

Drivers of large SUVs on a B licence need to take care, as their heavier vehicles can often push the total weight above the 3,500kg limit, then requiring a category BE (car and trailer) licence.

This seems inherently silly, as a large SUV would generally have more power than a car, to make towing easier, but that’s the way the rules apply.

Of course, before you attach a hitch to a Ford Ka it’s worth noting the towing vehicle must be certified to tow the weight of the trailer and load.

What if the vehicle, trailer and load together weigh more than 3,500kg and I don’t have a BE licence? To gain a category BE on your car licence you must have a full B licence. You are required to get a learner permit and take a practical driving test. You must sit a theory test in category BW (if you haven’t already to get your B licence) to gain a learner permit. You must display an L-plate on the trailer and when practising with it must be accompanied by a driver with a full BE licence. Lessons are not mandatory for a BE test, but the RSA recommends them. During the test, drivers are given the option of reversing to their left or right around a corner. Can I use any trailer for my BE test? No, it must be a permanent boxed trailer, such as a horsebox, at least as wide and as high as the vehicle towing it and at least 2.4 metres long. The trailer must be presented with 30 four-inch cement blocks as a load.

What does a BE licence allow me to tow? With BE, the trailer and load can weigh up to 3,500kg and your vehicle can weigh up to the same maximum of 3.5 tonnes, bringing the combined weight to 7,000kg. A BE-licence holder can tow a car, whereas a B-licence holder cannot.

Can I buy a new trailer from anyone? Since late October 2012 the days of buying a trailer built by a local lad who is good with his hands are gone. All new trailers for sale must have “European Community whole vehicle type approval”. The National Standards Authority of Ireland is responsible for testing and issuing national approvals for trailers made in Ireland. The law is unclear on older trailers and their use, but ultimately the driver is responsible for the safety of his or her trailer and load.

An example of the scale of the towing market in Ireland is evident by orders for cars fitted with hitches. Skoda Ireland says that last year 22 per cent of the new cars it sold were ordered with factory-fitted towing systems.

The benefit of a factory-fitted system is that it’s equipped with compatible electrics connections, while the car’s stability control and other driving aids automatically adapt to having a trailer attached.

The car’s alarm also recognises that a trailer is attached and monitors it; light bulbs in the trailer are monitored, too; stop/start is switched off; and the ABS adjusts for the trailer. Factory tow hitches aren’t cheap but are worth it. Skoda’s start at €499 and rise to €899.

We were invited to put our towing skills to the test at a novel event. We had a Skoda Octavia Combi (from €32,710) to which we hitched a general-purpose twin-axle trailer.

The first challenge was to collect and load a round bale of straw and then drive on a mix of roads. Securing the load, in this case with ratchet straps, is the responsibility of the driver. It is an offence to have an unsecured load. The motorway section of the route was incredibly dull, as we stuck to the 80km/h car-and-trailer speed limit.

At times we felt a little anxious, as cars and buses would appear rapidly behind us and then overtake. Our trailer was braked, so it had internal brakes that were applied whenever the car slowed down. The trailer was new, so it didn’t tug or jerk at all – something older or poorly serviced trailers can do.

At the end of the trip a car park was coned out and a number of reversing tasks were set for us by John Kearney, an instructor with Hynes Quinn driving school.

“Professional training can make the difference between passing and failing your test. More often than not people tend to oversteer; with professional training you can get the best advice to get the trailer going where you want it to go,” he said.

We managed quite well, but reversing with a trailer is a skill you really only master with practice.

Reversing a trailer is counterintuitive, but once you get a feel for it your confidence grows. With a growing number of cars fitted with hitches taking to our roads, it’s a skill that more motorists should formally learn rather than hope to pick up along the way.

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2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Prototypes Spied Testing Towing Capacity

ne of the vehicles that occupy a position in the top three of our spyshots section this year has to be the next-gen Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The W464 prototypes seem to be everywhere these days and we’re back with another piece of spy footage showing the offroader.

The video, which you can find at the bottom of the page, reveals a pair of G Wagons performing towing tests – both vehicles spied here were consciously handling their trailer duties.

The towing capacity of the next G is obviously an important detail and while we’re talking weight, we’ll remind you the Mercedes-Benz is expected to go on a serious diet. The new platform should allow the rugged terrain machine to become up to 400 kilos (880 lbs) lighter, all while growing in width, which will seriously boost cabin space.

Speaking of the interior, we’ve already shown you various bits of the dashboard, such as the instrument cluster or the rounded air vents – forget the digital craze taking over the car world, the Gelandewagen will stay true to its roots, maintaining analog dials.

Infotainment fans shouldn’t fret, though, as the vehicle will pack the large 12.3-inch central display seen on the S-Class and E-Class, all without the add-on positioning of the current G-Class. In case you missed the leaked dashboard, you can find it here.

While the wild side of the rumor mill expects the G-Class to receive the 48V electric system that will allow the upcoming S-Class facelift to offer mild hybrid assistance, the rugged focus of the model could mean engineers will skip this feature for the once-military offroader, but it’s still too early to tell.

And to end this story on a high horse(power) note, we’ll mention that the automaker’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, in multiple stages of tune, will serve an important part of the new G-Class line-up, namely the G550/G500 and G63. So we”re not exactly dealing with a gentle giant here.

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Proper preparation, safety is must when towing a trailer

Proper loading and size of your tow vehicle is critical to staying safe while traveling no matter the weather you may come across during your journeys.  Russ Tice, For the Press DispatchProper loading and size of your tow vehicle is critical to staying safe while traveling no matter the weather you may come across during your journeys. Russ Tice, For the Press Dispatch

Happy Camping to you! Russ and Lori would like to answer some email questions we have received with regard to tow vehicles and trailer weights or lengths. Most questions applied to the towing of a travel trailer, yet the question of towing boats or vehicles behind a motorhome also was of concern to some.
The dynamics of trailer towing have not changed much over the years but the dynamics of tow-vehicles and travel trailers has over the past several years. Tow vehicles of today are computer controlled wonders of horsepower and gear selection with automatic transmissions. With that in mind, proper loading and size of the tow vehicle is critical to staying safe.
An overloaded trailer or towing with a vehicle that has exceeded its tow or weight ratings is extremely dangerous. It is not just the stated weight of the vehicle and trailer. Those figures are generally for an ‘unloaded vehicle’. This includes the weight of passengers, water, propane, holding tanks, and all gear stored aboard. For example; four adults in the vehicle can easily weigh a combined 600 pounds or more. 50 gallons of water in the rig is another 400 pounds. You are already at 1000 pounds of extra weight and we have not put an ounce of gear, food, or supplies in the rig yet. When we add up the combined weight of everything you are taking with you, it is not unusual to find that we have 500 or more pounds to think about. A few cases of water or soda give you an idea of how weight adds up. Russ and Lori want you to stay safe.
There is an expert in the High Desert with regard to tow vehicles, travel trailers, motorhomes, you name it. Timm over at I-15 RV in Hesperia has been around as long as Russ and Lori. He has a history and knowledge to assist you with any RV questions. I spoke with him and he is more than happy for you to visit or call. His expertise is what has Russ and Lori set-up nicely with a great travel trailer-tow vehicle combo.
We tow what is in length a 34 foot Vibe travel trailer. Interestingly enough, towing is quite nice with our RAM half-ton truck. The RAM has a Hemi engine and 3.92 differential. That gives our truck about a 10,500 pound tow rating. The Vibe Extreme Lite trailer is about 6,700 pounds unloaded. We tow with only 5 gallons of water in the trailer tank. Even then, I am looking at a good 700 pounds more when we consider our two little generators, full RV propane tanks, gas can, bottled water, food, clothes, firewood, etc. Put Lori and Russ in the truck cab and there is another 300 pounds. Russ and Lori agree on the 300 pounds yet are still in discussion about that weight distribution. Our pre-load 6,700 pounds is now about 7,700 pounds.
Always try to stay between 70 percent and no more than 80 percent of your vehicle’s tow ratings. Three terms you need to know are GVWR, RGAWR, and GCWR. GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the weight that the vehicle should never ever exceed. This rating is the ‘most’ that your vehicle should ever weigh. Again, give yourself a margin. Never max-out a vehicle. You would never do that to a horse, right? Treat your vehicle like a good person treats a horse and it will give you many years of enjoyment.
RGAWR is the Rear Gross Axle Weight Rating. This is the maximum weight that the tow vehicle’s rear axle should carry. This is where hitch weight of the trailer can make a difference.
GCWR is the Gross Combination Weight Rating. This is the combined gross tow vehicle weight and gross trailer weight that should never be exceeded.
One more deal here is the hitch rating on your tow vehicle. The hitch rating is the absolute most weight that the hitch can support. Stay within a safe margin. The vehicle tow receiver may have a different rating number than the hitch, depending on manufacture or different ratings. Always go with the lower number.
You can search some online weight calculators for RV and travel trailer use. We use this for comparison only and do not rely on these numbers. Only the actual ratings for your particular rig matter.
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Tow Truck Operators Calling For A Change In Safety Standards

They come out to rescue stranded drivers rain or shine, start our vehicle, unlock our doors and we count on them to open our roads when major incidents 2A regular set of amber light beacons. Photo Courtesy of Brandon J Seager.

So, do tow trucks, as a classified emergency response vehicle, deserve the same attention and protection first responder vehicles, such as fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles get?

Many local tow operators are joining together and calling for new safety legislation.

They would like to see some tow trucks allowed an alternate colour of light on their beacons and better enforcement of the slow-down and move-over law.

Brad MacMillan a local deck operator with City Wide Towing in the Foothills says he and his co-workers have had too many incidents and close calls last year, something needs to change.

“We’ve had several incidents just in Calgary and the area, we had one tow truck hit out by Chestermere which resulted in a fatality.” MacMillan adds “There was an A.M.A driver that got hit on Deerfoot and Memorial Dr. That same night there was a collision with a BMW and another A.M.A truck.”

This coming after the most recent incident a tow operator in Leduc was doing a recovery on the side of a highway where he was hit twice, thrown up into the air and thankfully he survived, but he broke both of his femurs in the incident. The company he worked for – Vintage Towing – says if he was standing on the other side of his tow truck, the outcome would have been devastating.

MacMillan says most tow operators are only looking for a change in the colour of the lights that sit in their beacons. He thinks that drivers have become desensitized by the current amber lights due to high usage in other road industries.
“Right now we have lots of plows on the road. They have amber and red lights, however you also have the landscapers that are plowing and removing snow from parking lots they have amber lights, and they’re on all the time. Then you have wide loads and the construction crews on the side of the roads, they’re all amber lights.”

MacMillan feels that the difference between tow operators and other road industries is that tow operators have little to no protection while they work, unlike other industries.

“In industries like construction, they typically have a lot more safeguards in place. They have their barriers set up, usually concrete ones, and they’re allowed to block off however many lanes to keep their workers safe.”

Many operators and companies try to avidly promote the “slow down move over” law but it’s just not getting through to drivers with an increased number of incidents and close calls like the one on Highway 1 for MacMillan. “I was working in the shoulder recovering a broken down vehicle, and a car came so close to me, that I had no choice but to jump on my deck and while doing that the vehicle actually scuffed my foot.” MacMillan says “If I hadn’t have seen the car coming, I would have been hit and pinned between my truck and his car.”

It’s actions like this that cause unease in the towing community. Leading to members writing their M.L.As and M.Ps of their area, but are frustrated with their concerns falling on deaf ears.

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Car slides into tow truck on icy Minnesota road

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (KRON) — Black ice likely contributed to a crash that was caught on camera.

A tow truck in Minneapolis was working to pull a wrecked SUV out of a ditch when an oncoming car crashed into the back of the truck.

The two people standing next to the truck slowly walked on the icy road to the car after the accident. You can see them sliding around on the ice.

Black ice made the commute so dangerous Tuesday morning that transportation officials asked people to stay off part of a major interstate there.

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NY police pursuit of flatbed ends in Ramapo

A man who stole a flatbed tow truck in New Jersey Monday morning led police on a two-state chase that ended in Ramapo, authorities said.

Two New York State troopers were injured when their patrol cars were sideswiped by the fleeing flatbed, said State Trooper Dermont Summers.

Suffern Police Department


The driver of the stolen vehicle, identified by East Rutherford police as Paul Gudanowski, 51, of Hackensack, New Jersey, is facing charges in both states.

The chase began in East Rutherford after 8 a.m. when police spotted the man driving the flatbed in an erratic manner on Route 120, close to MetLife Stadium. Another tow truck near it had tried to stop the stolen truck.

When Gudanowski sped off, police from several New Jersey towns joined in a chase that went up Route 17 North into New York, where New York State troopers joined the pursuit.

The truck entered I-87 northbound and left the highway at Exit 16 in Orange County by the Woodbury Common Outlet stores. It then made a U-turn, exiting the highway at 15A with more than a dozen police cars surrounding the truck.

The truck came to a stop on Route 59 in Ramapo, near the border with Suffern, after an East Rutherford patrol car accidentally hooked onto the flatbed’s rear bumper.

It is unclear whether other officers were also injured.

Gudanowski was charged by state police with operating a stolen vehicle, assault on a police officer and numerous driving violations, Summers said. He is being held in New York until he is extradited to New Jersey, where East Rutherford police will charge him with aggravated assault and possession of stolen property.

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The tow-truck wakeup call and other traditions along the parade route

Maria Pacheco, 37, and husband Jose Villagrana, 41, grew up in Pasadena and always wanted to camp out along the parade route as kids, but never got to.

Now, they make it a tradition with their three children, two boys ages 16 and 12, and an 8-year-old girl. This year, they staked out their spot near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard. and Oak Knoll Avenue since 6 a.m. Sunday.

“We try and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do it this year,’ but they don’t take no for an answer,” Maria said, laughing.

They said knew about the added security this year, but they didn’t think twice about coming. They also watched the weather and said they lucked out — they only got sprinkled on a little bit Sunday night.

At 5:39 a.m., more than a dozen tow trucks, headlights on, paraded down Colorado, horns blaring. A man in one of them yelled, “Good morning!”

“The wakeup call!” Jose said. “They do it every year.” He then pumped his arm at one of the trucks, grinning and trying to get it to honk.

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