Towing a Trailer in South Africa
By Chris in Blog
Tow the line: towing a car in South Africa
As we approach the tail-end of the year, moms and dads, students and couples start eyeing the calendar eagerly, looking forward to that end of year holiday.
Don’t let unexpected details derail your plans! If you’re hoping to get the family boat to some open water, your son’s quad-bike to an untouched dune or your good-old caravan out into the bush, make sure you know if your current driver’s licence legally allows you to tow your favourite goodies!
Does your driver’s licences allow you tow?
Just having a driver’s licence doesn’t mean you can tow anything you want.
Since the year 2000, the standard driver’s licence test provides you with a code B licence. A Code B licence lets you tow a trailer that weighs less than 750 kilograms when fully laden. If a motorist wants to tow a heavier trailer, a caravan or boat, they’ll need a code EB licence.
An EB licence allows you to tow a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) not exceeding 3,500 kilograms. GVM refers to the combined tare weights of the car and trailer or caravan. To give you some perspective, a caravan can weigh anything from 1500 kg to 1800 kg, and a Toyota Hilux weighs in around 1800 kg. The new Land Rover Discovery S, on the other hand, weighs in at 2200kg – meaning that you can easily exceed even a EB licence weight allowance.
If you’re caught towing something weighing more than 750 kg, you could be hit with a fine, and if you get into an accident, your insurer may repudiate your claim.
How to get an towing licence
So you’re desperate to take the caravan for a spin, and you want to do it legally?
Unfortunately, upgrading your licence is not a simple process. If you want to get an EB code licence, you’ll have to repeat both your Learner’s Licence and Driver’s Licence tests, with a trailer weighing more than 750 kgs.
Make sure you check with the testing facility you want to go to, to make sure they have the facilities to take these tests! Have a look at our List of Transport & Municipal Traffic Departments in Western Cape.
Do you even tow, bro?
Not all cars are created equal – a number of cars are legally classified as non-towing vehicles by manufacturers.
In South Africa, most small cars cannot be fitted with a tow bar, due to structural or cooling limitations. Attempting to attach a DIY tow bar could not only invalidate the vehicle’s warranty, but may compromise the vehicle’s stability, making it dangerous to drive.
Tips for towing
- Make sure that the ball doesn’t obscure the numberplate.
- If you have a removable towbar, make sure it’s stowed away safely – you don’t want it flying around if you have an accident!
- Check to make sure that both the vehicle being towed, as well as the trailer or caravan are roadworthy – important components to check include: the hitch, coupler, safety chain, electronics like light systems and the brakes. This is especially important if you only seldomly use the towed vehicle.
- Don’t overload your trailer – this may lead to braking problems or damage to your car’s suspension and engine.
- Make sure the weight distribution is correct – distribute your belongings evenly on both sides with a little more weight packed near the front of the trailer.
- Keep your eyes open – the driver should always be able to see whatever is being towed, as well as the road behind them. You can always fit your car with extra side mirrors.
- Be careful of overtaking – don’t forget that your trailer has to pass the vehicle ahead of you as well!
- The heavier the combined weight, the more distance and time required to come to a complete stop.
Source – Carzar