Towing a Motorcycle
There are numerous ways to tow a motorcycle, and a more creative but common way has recently surfaced in Johannesburg traffic; being towed by car with a tow-rope. Of course, I had to stir the pot a little, calling it stupid and I choose to stand on this point. There are better and safer ways if you have the resources, but if all else fails you will end up opting for a method less safe unless you do it “right”. The law, as you will see, is not clear on this issue and it blows my mind!
Off-road riders often use this tow-rope method wrapped around the opposite (right-to-left / left-to-right), footpegs of the two motorcycles and held in place by the rider’s foot. This ensures for a quick release should any one of the riders lose control.
- The tow-rope on the towing motorcycle should be opposite side of the chain
- The towed rider is the most experience of the two
- The towed rider should follow to the side and not directly behind the towing motorcycle
- The towed rider should keep the tension on the tow-rope
- Do not tow down-hill; release the tow-rope then connect again at the bottom of the hill
- The lead rider must keep a slow steady pace
- Don’t tow if the towed motorcycle is bigger than the towing motorcycle
On-road it is a different story and completely illegal for a motorcycle to be the towing vehicle. Being drawn by a car with a tow-rope in traffic is simply too risky! Too many variables, but the law in South Africa do not forbid such a method; heaven knows why! This archaic 1996 NRTA is in need of serious revision, and not just a few amendments.
It is the stupidest omission in the law I’ve ever seen!
What does our outdated law say about towing a, or with a motorcycle?
According to the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996), Regulation 303 it states that no person shall operate a vehicle on a public road towing another vehicle –
- if the length of the tow-rope, chain or tow-bar between the two vehicles exceeds three and a half metres;
- if the towed vehicle is connected to the towing vehicle in such a manner that both vehicles are not under control;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- if the towing vehicle is a motor cycle, motor tricycle, motor quadrucycle or pedal cycle.