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Towing bowsers on the highway


Towing bowsers on the highway

Examples of a highway towable bowser (left) and a site towable bowser (right)

Whilst a towable bowser may have wheels and a tow hitch on, it won’t necessarily be legal to take on the highway with a payload inside.

There are safety considerations and so, we’ve published some guidelines you should heed before hitching up and driving away.

A site towable bowser like the one shown above right, may not be towed legally on the highway with any payload on board.

A litre of water weighs a kilo and so, multiply that by a thousand or two and you’ve  a serious tonne on board following you down the road.

A highway towable bowser differs in design, part of which is a break away system to halt the bowser should it become unhitched from the towing vehicle whilst in motion.

There is a cable which usually under tension, retracts to engage brakes fitted to the bowser bringing it to a halt.

The next consideration is the vehicle being used to tow.

A 2000 litre highway towable bowser when full, weighs in excess of 2600 kilos.

To establish if your towing vehicle can legally tow, you need to engage in a little mathematics and detective work.

Either in the vehicle handbook or definitely someplace on the vehicle (usually under the bonnet in the engine bay), there is something known as a VIN plate.  See the example below.

On the plate, you will find the maximum authorised mass and the Gross train weight.

The latter is the weight of the towing vehicle plus the gross weight of the item being towed, making the gross train weight that will be travelling the highway.

The plate on the item being towed will give the gross weight (that is the item and payload in the case of a bowser).

We already mentioned that is 2600 kilos on a 2000 litre highway bowser.

Add this to the max authorised weight shown on the VIN plate and provided it does not exceed the gross train weight, you can legally tow your bowser.

Specialised vehicles such as 4X4s will by design, have a higher gross train weight ability than the average family car.  To stay on the right side of the law, you should check these figures before you tow.

The driver’s licence.

The driver must hold a valid licence with the  = E entitlement either by taking a  trailer test, holding a class 1 licence or inherited grandfather rights. Those are relative to a licence issued before the licence clauses were issued.

Additionally, a valid CPC card or tachograph card  is entitlement also.  Anyone in doubt as to the validity of their licence, should consult the DVLA.