Towing of Vehicles and the National Road Traffic Act
The National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996) and the National Road Traffic Regulations published in Government Notice No. R.225 of 17 March 2000 stipulate the regulatory requirements for Towing of Vehicles.
Regulation 330. No person shall operate a vehicle on a public road towing another vehicle
(a) if the length of the tow rope, chain or tow bar between the two vehicles exceeds three and a half metres;
(b) if the towed vehicle is connected to the towing vehicle in such a manner that both vehicles are not under control;
(c) unless the steering gear of the vehicle being towed is controlled by a person holding a code of driving licence authorising him or her to drive the class of such vehicle, if the towed vehicle is fitted with steering gear contemplated in regulation 200(1): Provided that the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply in the case where
(i) the steerable wheels of the towed vehicle are being carried clear of the ground; or
(ii) the device connecting the towing vehicle to the towed vehicle is such that the steerable wheels of the towed vehicle are controlled by such device;
(d) if the brakes of the towed vehicle do not comply with the provisions of regulation 155, unless the towing vehicle is connected to the towed vehicle by means of a drawbar or tow bar;
(e) at a speed in excess of 30 kilometres per hour, unless the towing vehicle is connected to the towed vehicle by means of a drawbar or a tow bar;
(f) if the towed vehicle is conveying persons at a speed in excess of 30 kilometres per hour, unless the towed vehicle is a semi trailer; or
(g) if the towing vehicle is a motor cycle, motor tricycle, motor quadrucycle or pedal cycle.
Regulation 239(2)(b) on Gross Vehicle Mass must also be complied with:
Gross vehicle mass, gross axle massload, gross axle unit massload, gross combination mass, power to mass ratio and axle massload of driving axle to total mass ratio not to be exceeded
(1) No person shall operate on a public road a mini bus, bus, tractor or goods vehicle
(i) the gross vehicle mass;
(ii) any gross axle massload; or
(iii) any gross axle unit massload,
(b) drawing any other motor vehicle if the gross combination mass is exceeded.
(2) No person shall operate on a public road a vehicle which is a minibus, bus, tractor or goods vehicle if the mass in kilograms of such vehicle or of a combination of vehicles of which such first mentioned vehicle forms a part, whether laden or unladen, exceeds a figure arrived at by multiplying the net power in kilowatts of the engine of such vehicle as determined in accordance with or calculated with due regard to code of practice SABS 013 A. The determination of performance (at net power) of internal combustion engines
(a) in the case of the drawing vehicle being a tractor by 400; or
(b) in the case of any other vehicle by 240.
(3) No person shall operate on a public road a vehicle which is a mini bus, bus, tractor or goods vehicle if the mass in kilograms of such vehicle or of a combination of vehicles of which such first mentioned vehicle forms a part, whether laden or unladen, exceeds five times the total axle massload of the driving axle or axles of such vehicle.
Towing more than one trailer / Towing of a caravan and trailer
In terms of Regulation 222 (restriction on combination of motor vehicles) of the National Road Traffic Act, states the following:
No person shall operate on a public road any combination of motor vehicles –
other than a drawing vehicle and one or two trailers;
other than a motor vehicle drawing one other motor vehicle which is not a trailer; and
other than a motor vehicle drawing another motor vehicle which is not a trailer, and a trailer, in the case of an emergency or a breakdown.
No person shall operate on a public road a combination of motor vehicles consisting of –
a trailer attached to a drawing vehicle in such a manner that the combination of trailer and drawing vehicle cannot bend in a horizontal plane, if the combined length of such trailer, including any drawbar or coupling and the rear overhang of the drawing vehicle, exceeds three comma one metres;
a trailer or trailers attached to a drawing vehicle if the length of the drawbar of any trailer in such combination, where such trailer has more than one axle, exceeds two metres: Provided that in the case of an underslung coupling, the drawbar may exceed two metres if the distance between the two vehicles does not exceed two comma five metres.
Note that a caravan in terms of the National Road Traffic Act is defined as an enclosed vehicle which is designed or adapted solely to live in and which is drawn by another vehicle.
A trailer means a vehicle which is not self propelled and which is designed and adapted to be drawn by a motor vehicle. A caravan is also designed and adapted to be drawn by a motor vehicle thus it fits the description of a trailer and the law cited above does allow a drawing vehicle to pull two trailers. It is therefore legal to tow a caravan and a trailer.
Vehicle Recovery and Road Safety
Safe Driving and Towing a Trailer Safely