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New Zealand Road Code Test

Key driving skills - Towing


To tow a trailer on a car licence (a Class 1 licence), the weight of your vehicle plus the weight of the trailer must not exceed 4500 kg (including the load you are carrying).

You must take extra care when towing a trailer or another vehicle. This is because, with the extra weight behind it, your vehicle will feel different to drive.

Follow the safe towing guidelines below whenever you tow a trailer or another vehicle.

Note: the term 'trailer' includes caravans, boat and horse trailers.


If you are towing a trailer or another vehicle, check your rear-view mirror often to make sure you aren't holding up vehicles behind you.

Safe towing guidelines

  • Refer to the car manufacturer's recommendations before towing a trailer, in particular the weight limits recommended.
  • Refer to the loading limits for the tow bar you are using.
  • Be aware that overloading and uneven loading of car trailers can seriously affect a car's handling.
  • When driving a light vehicle (for example, a car or light truck), you must not tow more than one trailer or vehicle at a time.
  • You must be able to see behind the towed trailer or vehicle. If you can't see behind with your rear-view mirrors, you may need to fit a special mirror.
  • There must be no more than 4 metres between your vehicle and the trailer or vehicle it is towing.
  • The towing connection and safety chain that holds the trailer/vehicle must be safe and strong.
  • The maximum speed for a light vehicle towing a trailer on the open road is 90 km/h.
  • The maximum speed for towing a motorcycle is 30 km/h.
  • You must not tow a motorcycle unless it is mechanically disabled.
  • At night, the back of the trailer/towed vehicle must show a red light.
  • If you're towing a disabled vehicle at night, its headlights must light up the towing connection.
  • Remember, you will be slower and less stable than other traffic when towing. Check behind often to see if other vehicles are held up behind you.
  • If the road is winding or narrow and vehicles can't pass you, stop at a safe place and let them pass.
  • Leave more space than usual between your vehicle and the one in front, so that others can pass you.
  • Remember that the added weight behind you means you will need more space to stop. Increase your following distance from two seconds to four seconds.


When towing a horse trailer, take extra care as the horse may move – especially when you brake or travel around corners – and this could affect the movement of the trailer.



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