Things to consider when towing your RIB

The ability to hook your RIB up to your car affords you greater possibilities of launch locations and with that broader scope for new and interesting cruising routes. But before moving your boat on the road, there are legal requirements you must adhere to, plus important safety considerations too. Not just are these vital for your own safety and those of other road users, you’re liable to be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Weight restrictions

Towing regulations are somewhat complex, but to break it down, you will fall into one of two categories -

Guidance if you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997:

With a standard, category B drivers licence, then you are able to tow a small trailer weighing no more than 750kg, or a heavier trailer, so long as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) combination of weight of car + boat does not exceed 3500kg. This should be adequate towing for small-mid sized RIBs being towed by a 4x4.

If you’re wanting to tow larger, heavier RIBs, or the overall combined weight is greater than 3500kg, then you’ll need to take the car and trailer driving test (also known as the B+E driving test). If you fall into this category, then there are driving schools who are able to offer ‘Trailer Towing Training’ to prepare you for this specific driving test.

Guidance if you passed your car test before 1 January 1997:

You’re ‘usually’ allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM. However, it is advisable to check your licence to be sure of what you’re able to tow.

To check your car’s towing capacity, the RAC has a useful calculator.

A guide to RIB cruise routes


Width and length restrictions

The maximum trailer width = 2.55 metres

The maximum length = 7 metres*

*NB applicable for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms.


Safety Considerations

  • Arguably the most important is a secure connection between the car and trailer. The DVLA require that your tow bar must be ‘type approved’. This essentially means that it must meet EU regulations, be designed for your make and model of car, which is proved with a label clarifying approval number and details of the vehicles it’s approved for.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure regular maintenance checks on your trailer. Even though you’re not obliged to take MOT style tests on the trailer itself, safety is vital and being confident that your trailer is roadworthy is crucial.
  • Brakes are a legal requirement for any vehicle and trailer with a combined weight over 750kg.
  • In case the trailer becomes detached, you must use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling.
  • If your trailer or boat is wider than the rear of your car, then its important to fit suitable towing mirrors to allow full view of the road and drivers behind. If you don’t, you risk being fined up to £1,000 and 3 penalty points added to your licence.
  • Wheel bearings - saltwater will reduce their life dramatically so get them checked regularly.
  • Make certain to have a fully functioning lighting board and display the correct rear number plate at the rear of the trailer (this must be the same as your car number plate).
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance to be sure that you’ll be covered in case of an accident.


Looking for somewhere new to explore with your RIB? Check out our eBook A guide to RIB cruise routes

A guide to RIB cruise routes


Header image source - Ribeye

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