Towing a trailer – regulations, technical requirements, tips

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First days of beautiful, sunny weather make trailer owners enthusiastically start planning their first trips. Plenty of people probably consider buying their own „house on wheels” too. Towing a trailer, however, has its requirements, so before the season starts for good, let us recall all the rules and regulations relating to the topic.


Towing a trailer – regulations and technical capabilities

Let's start by seeing if our combo's (towing car and trailer) technical capabilities comply with the regulations. To do that, we'll need two documents – the registration of the towing vehicle, which is the car we're going to tow the trailer with, and the trailer's registration.

The towing vehicle's registration has the following figures that are relevant to us:

  • 1 – maximum total mass (MTM) of a trailer with a brake in kilograms;
  •  2 – maximum total mass (MTM) of a trailer without a brake in kilograms;
  • 2 – allowed total mass (ATM) of the vehicle in kilograms;
  •  3 – allowed total mass (ATM) of a group of vehicles in kilograms;

And when it comes to the trailer's registration, we write down the value in the field F.2, which is ATM.

To make sure that towing the trailer with a particular car complies with the regulations, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • 1. The trailer's ATM (F.2) has to be lower than the value in the field O.1 or O.2 of the car's registration (depending on whether our trailer has an interia brake or not).
  • 2. Sum of the trailer's ATM (F.2) and the vehicle's ATM (F.2) has to be lower than the value at the field F.3 in the car's registration.
  • 3. The vehicle's ATM (F.2) to the trailer's ATM (F.2) ratio must be at least 1,33, if the trailer has an inertia brake.
  • 4.  The vehicle's ATM (F.2) has to be higher than the trailer's ATM (F.2).

It would probably be easier to explain with a specific example – Peugeot Partner 1.6 HDI 75KM with the ATM of 1880 kg towing a Niewiadow N132 camping trailer with an inertia brake and the DMC of 750 kg. Let's look into individual factors for this combo:

  1. The trailer's ATM (F.2) is 750 kg. That's less than the value in the field O.1 of the Peugeot's registration, which is 1100 kg.
  2. The sum of the trailer's and the vehicle's ATM (fields F.2 in both registrations) is 2630 kg (750 kg + 1880 kg). That's less than the value in the field F.3 of the Peugeot's registration, which is 3025 kg.
  3. The Peugeot's ATM to the trailer's ATM ratio is 2,51 (1880 kg / 750 kg), which is above the required 1,33.
  4. Fulfilling the requirement number 3 automatically means fulfilling the requirement number 4.

Therefore our combo has passed the entire test. Which means we may consider towing a Niewiadow N132 trailer with a Peugeot Partner. Why only consider for now? Because first we have to make sure if we have the necessary permissions.

Towing a trailer – permissions

The basic driving license category, which most of us owns, is B. The B category driving license allows us to drive vehicles with the ATM of up to 3,5 tones (3500 kg). Besides that, we can also drive:

  • a group of vehicles made of a vehicle (ATM of up to 3,5 tones) and a light trailer (MTM lower than or equal to 750 kg),
  • a group of vehicles made of a vehicle (ATM of up to 3,5 tones) and a trailer other than a light one (MTM above 750 kg), as long as the combined allowed total mass of the group of those vehicles is no bigger than 3,5 tones,
  • a group of vehicles made of a vehicle (ATM of up to 3,5 tones) and a trailer other than a light one (MTM higher than 750 kg), as long as the combined allowed total mass of the group of those vehicles is no bigger than 4250 kg, under the condition of passing the practical part of a state exam, which will be confirmed with an adequate record in the driving license (the so called code 96).

Going back to our example with a Peugeot Partner and a Niewiadow N132 trailer, driving this kind of a group of vehicles only requires a B category driving license. The towing vehicle's ATM is 1880 kg, which is below 3,5 tones, and the trailer's ATM is 750 kg, which makes it a light trailer.

Towing a trailer – a tow hitch permission

Before we start towing our trailer, there's one more thing we have to remember. Putting a tow hitch on our car requires a permission from the District Vehicle Checkup Station. That's because a hitch is an element that requires yearly checkups. Therefore, if we put the hitch on our vehicle before the last technical checkup, it was certainly checked and there should be an adequate note on that in the registration. However, if we only added the hitch recently and we haven't taken our vehicle for a technical checkup yet, then before we start towing we have to go to the District Vehicle Checkup Station and get a checkup for our hitch.

Towing a trailer – how to drive

Towing a trailer is quite a demanding task for the driver. So let's remember about few rules:

  • we take curves in wide arches – that's because a trailer cuts curves, so we should take them in a way that ensures that the trailer fits on the road;
  •  we hit the brakes in advance – a combo made of a vehicle with a trailer will take longer to brake than just a car, which is why we have to start doing it earlier;
  • we prepare the overtaking manouver more precisely – an entire combo gains speed slower than just a car, which is why we should prepare more time to overtake;
  • we brake with the gearbox – towing a trailer puts a significant pressure on the brakes, which might overheat during braking, which is why we should support their working by losing speed with use of lower gears;

Towing a trailer – speed limits

Sadly, towing a trailer comes with more restrictive regulations when it comes to speed limits. It means we can drive:

  1. 50 km/h in urban areas;
  2. 70 km/h outside urban areas;
  3. 80 km/h on highways, expressways and dual carriageways with at least two lanes.

We should absolutely stick to those limits, especially keeping in mind that towing a trailer makes the stopping distance significantly longer.