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How do you know if you are towing legally in South Africa?

Towing in South Africa has become such a complicated endeavour that most people today don’t know if they are legally towing or caravanning on our roads due to the large number of regulations that impact towing.

In an effort to shine some light on South Africa’s towing regulations, we invite you to take cognisance of the following:

1.    What does your licence entitle you to tow?

Many motorists don’t realise that our South African driver licences regulate what the holder can drive as well as what type of trailer he or she can pull.  As a motorist you must make sure you are able to pull a trailer with your licence and more particularly what size of trailer.

The following codes are applicable:

1.1  Code B – entitled to pull a trailer with a maximum GVM (gross vehicle mass ) of 750kg

1.2  Code C1 – entitled to pull a trailer with a maximum GVM of 750 kg

1.3  Code C – entitled to pull a trailer with a maximum GVM of 750 kg

1.4  Code EB – entitled to pull a trailer that can exceed a GVM of 750 kg

1.5  Code EC1 – entitled to pull a trailer that can exceed a GVM of 750 kg

1.6  Code EC – entitled to pull a trailer that can exceed Aa GVM of 750 kg

2.    What does Tare and Gross vehicle mass mean?

2.1  Tare is the actual weight of the motor vehicle as displayed on your licence disc. It includes your spare wheel, anything which is a permanent part of the structure of the motor vehicle or anything that has been attached as a permanent structure. It does not include your fuel or anything temporarily attached to the motor vehicle.

2.2  Gross vehicle mass means the maximum mass of the motor vehicle and its load as specified by that particular manufacturer.

3.    How does one determine how much can they tow legally?

Regulation 151 of the National Road Traffic Act helps a motorist determine how much she or he can tow, which can be broken down as follows:

3.1  In order to tow a trailer of 750 kg, the tare of the drawing vehicle must be double the gross vehicle mass of the trailer.  In the event that the trailer’s Gvm does not exceed half the tare, the trailer must be equipped with a parking brake.

3.2  Where the GVM of the trailer exceeds half the tare of the drawing vehicle but not more than the tare of the drawing vehicle, the trailer must have a parking brake as well as a service brake or an overrun brake.;

3.3  Please note that the abovementioned rules will apply to trailers that are greater than 750kg but less than 3500kg.

4.    Is it possible to tow more than a trailer?

The National Road Traffic Act, in particular regulation 222 deals with this particular issue in great detail.  The Act very widely states that you may tow the following:-

4.1  a drawing vehicle and one or two trailers

4.2  a drawing vehicle which is towing a motor vehicle which is a not a trailer  for example a motor home

4.3  a drawing vehicle towing another motor vehicle which is not a trailer and another trailer, in cases of an emergency or breakdown.

Regulation 222 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 places specific restrictions on the manner in which in these combinations are to be complied with and should you be in this situation please ensure that you comply with this regulation completely. 

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