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Behind-the-Wheel

Towing a vehicle with a rope or a chain is illegal

Do-it-yourself towing

Tow trucks are too expensive.

So I’ll get a chain and enlist a buddy to do the steering and apply the brakes and we’ll just drag that broken down vehicle home and fix it ourselves. Think of the money we'll save doing it that way.

As long as you don't get caught or cause a crash, it might be the cheap way to do things all right. But if you do get caught, count on receiving a ticket and then paying the towing bill on top of that.

The chain is a good for pulling a vehicle out of a ditch or pulling a disabled vehicle to the side of the road, but its use ends there.

The first stumbling block in this plan is your friend is not allowed to be in the vehicle while you are towing it.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act:

Towing occupied motor vehicle prohibited

Division 7.07(6) No person shall tow a motor vehicle if there is a person in or on the towed motor vehicle.

The towed vehicle is considered to be a trailer and according to the act "trailer" means a vehicle that is at any time drawn on a highway by a motor vehicle, except:

(a) an implement of husbandry,

(b) a side car attached to a motorcycle, and

(c) a disabled motor vehicle that is towed by a tow car.

The biggest problem with using a chain, cable or rope to tow a vehicle is the chance of having to make a quick stop, causing the two vehicles to crash into one another. A proper tow bar will hold the vehicles apart and provide control over the combination.

It is almost impossible to maintain a constant tension in the connection between the two vehicles using a rchain or rope. The sudden forces involved in taking up slack may snap the connection, causing more unintended consequences.

The requirements for a proper trailer connection are found in division 7.07 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

Also, consider the brakes on the towed vehicle as well. Because the law considers the vehicle to be a trailer in such circumstances, if it weighs more than 50% of the net weight of the towing vehicle (or more than 1400 kg) brakes are required. Those brakes must be self-applying or operated by the driver of the towing vehicle.

A tow truck, tow bar or trailer is the safe answer and might end up being the least expensive solution.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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