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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 12:24
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Also be aware that if stopped and fined for any traffic offence in Spain you must, as a non-resident, pay the fine before they let you continue (trafico officers now carry handheld credit card payment machines....as they are not allowed to accept cash payments). They also now automatically load your registration and details of the offences and driver details into their database at the roadside (in case you are wanted for other offences etc).
just like any other traffic offence such as speeding, you will of course see loads more people doing it than parked at the side of the road with a trafico officer fining them because they have been caught doing it.
That is the normal Russian roulette effect of your decision to speed/tow one road vehicle with another in Spain or Portugal. I can tell you till I am blue in the face that it's specifically illegal to do so on any public roads in either of those two countries and people are regularly and increasingly now being stopped and fined and forced to drive the two vehicles separately from then on. But it's up to you whether you choose to obey or flout the traffic laws of any country you drive in. I guess it really boils down to how lucky you feel.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 13:19
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This is going away from the OP's post (doesn't it always?)

The key point is that when a car is on an a-frame and conforms to all the relevant lighting and braking regulations then it is regarded as a trailer and it is perfectly legal for a UK registered combination to circulate the roads of Europe like this. Towing a trailer in Spain is perfectly legal. The car has not 'magically' become a trailer in itself but is legally regarded as one (in the UK) until there is a court case that says otherwise if that ever happens. There are 2 very obvious clues to the car being regarded as a trailer. Firstly it carries the rear numberplate of the towing vehicle - in place of its own. Secondly it has to carry two red warning triangles - these are only legally displayed on a trailer, nothing else!

The problem is that this would not apply to Spanish (and some other European countries) registered vehicles because they have specific laws that would make such a configuration illegal. The Guardia Civil are unlikely to be fully aware of (or interested in) the UK regulations on this, so will view a motorhome towing a car as illegal. So of course there will be instances of people getting stopped, possibly fined, possibly made to uncouple and there will be many more instances (IMO) of others carrying on without problems.

The only defence if stopped is to be as polite as possible and to try and explain the UK/trailer situation, the result will depend on the officer on the day. But lets face it, its not a firing squad situation! The very worst is a fine (I'd be very surprised if it was as much as 600) and having to continue the journey separately.

I certainly don't 'flout' the law by a-framing, but I accept that there is a very small chance that a Spanish policeman might disagree.

I can only find the following info which is from 2007 that gives the UK official opinion on a-frame/trailer rules - Is there anything more recent?

"Note on A-Frames and Dollies, issued by the Department for Transport

When an "A" frame is attached to a vehicle (e.g. a motor car) and towed by a motor vehicle (e.g. motorhome) we believe the "A" frame and car become a single unit and as such are classified in legislation as a trailer. As a consequence the car and A-frame are required to meet the technical requirements for trailers when used on the road in Great Britain. These requirements are contained within the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (SI 1986/107 as amended (C&U) and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/1796) as amended (RVLR).

Trailers having a combined axle mass not exceeding 750kg are not required to have brakes fitted. However, if the trailer (regardless of mass) is fitted with a braking system, then all brakes in that system must operate correctly. The regulations do not include design constraints on how this should be achieved but, for example, it could be met by direct linking of the trailer brakes to the brake system of the towing vehicle or by automatic inertia (overrun) operation via the towing hitch. Inertia systems can only be used for trailers with a maximum combined axle mass of 3500kg.

Regulations 15 and 16 set out the braking requirements - including minimum braking efficiencies for trailer brakes. Subject to certain age exemptions, the regulation requires the braking system to comply with the construction, fitting and performance requirements of European Community Directive 71/320/EEC along with its various amending Directives. The most recent consolidated directive is 98/12/EC. Alternatively the braking system can comply with the corresponding UNECE Regulation No.13.09.

In addition, C&U Regulation 18 requires the braking system to be maintained in good and efficient working order. If the brakes of the towing vehicle do not directly operate the trailer brakes the use of an inertia (overrun) system is acceptable. If the trailer braking system has power assistance (i.e. servo or full power) it is likely that this assistance will be required while in motion to meet the required braking efficiencies. This is because once the vacuum reservoir is depleted it is possible that the brakes will not meet the braking efficiency. To prevent the trailer being used illegally a remote vacuum pump, powered from the tow vehicle, could be installed to recharge the reservoir, alternatively a source could be made available from the tow vehicle. From 1 October 1988 the inertia braking system was required to allow the trailer to be reversed by the towing vehicle without imposing a sustained drag and such devices used for this purpose must engage and disengage automatically. This will be very difficult to achieve on an "A" frame using an inertia (overrun) device.

Other provisions from Regulation 15 and Regulation 86A of C&U require the fitting and use of a secondary coupling system in which the trailer is stopped automatically if the main coupling separates whilst the combination is in motion. Alternatively, in the case of trailers up to a maximum mass of 1500kg, the drawbar must be prevented from touching the ground and the trailer able to retain some residual steering.

Whilst being towed, trailers are subject to the relevant requirements given in RVLR, including the use of triangular red reflectors. There would be further requirements for the display of the appropriate number plate, etc.

The use of "dollies" is intended for the recovery of broken down vehicles, not for the transportation of a vehicle from "A" to "B". Under Regulation 83 of C&U a motor car is permitted to tow two trailers when one of them is a towing implement and the other is secured to and either rests on or is suspended from the implement. Therefore as a trailer if the maximum laden weight of the dolly exceeds 750 kg it must be fitted with operational brakes, additionally the brakes on the wheels of the second trailer (the towed car) must work and meet the specified requirements. Again this would be very difficult for the rear brakes of a motor car, on their own, to meet the 50% braking efficiency required for a trailer. The dolly would also be required by Regulation 22 of C&U to be fitted with suspension. Regulations 19 and 22 in C&U permit a broken down vehicle to be recovered without complying with these requirements. However, there is further legislation under the Road Traffic Act that introduces a limitation on the maximum speed that the combination can be driven; this is 40mph on motorways and 20mph on other roads.

We do not supply copies of legislation but I have included some information on various sources where they can be obtained. If you would like to purchase printed copies of Statutory Instruments these are available from TSO:

The Stationery Office Tel: 0870 600 5522
PO Box 29 Fax: 0870 600 5533
St Crispins e-mail:
Duke Street online ordering:
Norwich NR3 1GN

Alternatively you can consult "The Encyclopaedia of Road Traffic Law and Practice" published by Sweet and Maxwell. This publication is updated regularly and is available in most city reference libraries.

EU Directives can be found at:

UN-ECE Regulations can be found at:

From the above I hope it is clear that we believe the use of "A" frames to tow cars behind other vehicles is legal provided the braking and lighting requirements are met. However, while this is our understanding of the meaning of the Regulations, it is only the Courts which can reach a definitive interpretation of the law.


Alan Mendelson
Primary Safety Branch
Department for Transport"


These arguments and discussions go on and on but there is rarely substantial evidence of problems. Lots of hearsay and third party conversations though.

I use UK Pub Stopovers, but then I would
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 14:45
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Have a look at 'N332' on Facebook.

Guardia Civil Trafico guys:

"A group of Traffic Police Officers publish every day articles related to Traffic subjects; news ,laws, and other useful information."

https://www.facebook.com/TorreviejaT...?tab=page_info

Some interesting stuff in their pages, including a bit on towing cars.

Peter
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 14:50
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That is useful info on there Peter but as far as a-frames go, N332 only view the toad as a car rather than a trailer so they can only advise that in their eyes towing with an a-frame is illegal.

It all comes down to the 'trailer' aspect

I use UK Pub Stopovers, but then I would
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 17:39
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Shock horror. .....uk law doesn't apply in Spain. UK law applies in the UK.
Spanish laws apply in Spain. On any public road in Spain the towing of one road vehicle with another is illegal. Always has been.
If you tow a car on an aframe, it is NOT legal even in UK law.....It is neither proven as legal nor illegal. No court case has yet been brought to resolve the grey area that such a practice represents.
But outside of the uk such minutae are a total irrelevance. It is blindingly obvious that in fact it is a car that you've bolted an A frame to. Any Spanish trafico officer can see that.
When you tell him it's not a car but a trailer, he'll laugh in your face (if he does not arrest you for insulting a Guardia officer of the law with your ludicrous suggestion). When he demands to see the papers for the car he will see that it is matriculated as a car.
you can run the risk of being nicked in Spain and Portugal and other mainland European countries by A-framing. Odds are that you'll get away with it...most Guardia are more interested in other traffic offences. But if you are nicked I'd very very strongly advise that you don't start arguing the toss with the Police officers. It'll get you nowhere quick except to a police cell, or quite possibly to hospital first with concussion and then to a police cell....the police here really are a force, not some castrated 'service' that the UK police have been reduced to.
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 19:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNomad View Post
Shock horror. .....uk law doesn't apply in Spain. UK law applies in the UK.
Spanish laws apply in Spain. On any public road in Spain the towing of one road vehicle with another is illegal. Always has been.
If you tow a car on an aframe, it is NOT legal even in UK law.....It is neither proven as legal nor illegal. No court case has yet been brought to resolve the grey area that such a practice represents.
But outside of the uk such minutae are a total irrelevance. It is blindingly obvious that in fact it is a car that you've bolted an A frame to. Any Spanish trafico officer can see that.
When you tell him it's not a car but a trailer, he'll laugh in your face (if he does not arrest you for insulting a Guardia officer of the law with your ludicrous suggestion). When he demands to see the papers for the car he will see that it is matriculated as a car.
you can run the risk of being nicked in Spain and Portugal and other mainland European countries by A-framing. Odds are that you'll get away with it...most Guardia are more interested in other traffic offences. But if you are unicked I'd very very strongly advise that you don't start arguing the toss with the Police officers. It'll get you nowhere quick except to a police cell, or quite possibly to hospital first with concussion and then to a police cell....the police here really are a force, not some castrated 'service' that the UK police have been reduced to.
Hi The Nomad,

Like you I am fully aware of Spanish traffic laws having had a house in Spain since 1986 and I just cannot understand why people will not accept that Spain and the UK have different traffic laws.

It has always been illegal to tow a car in Spain - the only people allowed to recover cars are the Grau, you can't just put a tow rope between cars and allow one to tow the other. My car insurance in Spain automatically includes breakdown cover for this very reason.

I am getting to the point of thinking that there is no longer any point in trying to help and advise some people about this topic. They just don't want to see the logic of the law so perhaps we should just let them get on with it and get fined - helps keep our tax bills down!

Mike

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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 19:25
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I think the question that Adgy was simply asking was who on this immense forum has been stopped and fined themselves. Not, I know a geezer wot was fined xxxx Euros.factually for all our benefit? As for breaking the traffic laws, A framing is only one, there are many others which do not attract so many emotional responses. For me the law is clear and for the avoidance of doubt I tow my car on a trailer. But when you see many A framing in Spain it would be good to census the risk.
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Last edited by sallylillian; 13-03-2015 at 19:27. Reason: Wrong text copied
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 19:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilmac View Post
This is going away from the OP's post (doesn't it always?)

The key point is that when a car is on an a-frame and conforms to all the relevant lighting and braking regulations then it is regarded as a trailer and it is perfectly legal for a UK registered combination to circulate the roads of Europe like this.
WRONG!!!!

This is from my post on a rival site:

From the current C&CC magazine:

"Club members are being advised not to use an A-frame to tow a car in Europe, following guidance from the DfT.
The 1968 Vienna convention on road traffic says a citizen of one state may use a vehicle in another state as long as it is legal in his or her own country. However, the DfT says the assumed protections offered by the Treaty do not cover A-frames because they post-date it and are therefore outside its scope.
The Club's Technical Team has been told the UK doesn't intend to implement recent changes to EU light-trailer brakes regulations. This means that A-frames will remain acceptable within the UK.
Following this clarification, the Club strongly recommends that if members wish to tow a car behind a motorhome in mainland Europe then it must be on a trailer."

Hope this helps
John
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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 19:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javea View Post
Hi The Nomad,

Like you I am fully aware of Spanish traffic laws having had a house in Spain since 1986 and I just cannot understand why people will not accept that Spain and the UK have different traffic laws.

It has always been illegal to tow a car in Spain - the only people allowed to recover cars are the Grau, you can't just put a tow rope between cars and allow one to tow the other. My car insurance in Spain automatically includes breakdown cover for this very reason.

I am getting to the point of thinking that there is no longer any point in trying to help and advise some people about this topic. They just don't want to see the logic of the law so perhaps we should just let them get on with it and get fined - helps keep our tax bills down!

Mike
Mike

I think that nobody is disputing your advice about what the Spanish law currently says.

I think the argument is about whether the Spanish law actually conflicts with the principle that if a vehicle is legal in its country of registration it is legal throughout Europe.

A similar problem has existed for some time in Poland, where the government has been refusing for years to re-register RHD cars. The Poles lost at the European Court and are in the process of changing the law.

I suspect that if anyone challenged the Spanish applying the no 'A'-frame law to a British vehicle their government might also lose at the European Court.

Of course, that as yet has not happened, so meanwhile people are at the mercy of the Franco-style Guardia - outside towns. That in itself is a contradiction, if the local police are not enforcing the same law.

Geoff
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 13-03-2015, 19:44
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Mike

I think that nobody is disputing your advice about what the Spanish law currently says.

I think the argument is about whether the Spanish law actually conflicts with the principle that if a vehicle is legal in its country of registration it is legal throughout Europe.

A similar problem has existed for some time in Poland, where the government has been refusing for years to re-register RHD cars. The Poles lost at the European Court and are in the process of changing the law.

I suspect that if anyone challenged the Spanish applying the no 'A'-frame law to a British vehicle their government might also lose at the European Court.

Of course, that as yet has not happened, so meanwhile people are at the mercy of the Franco-style Guardia - outside towns. That in itself is a contradiction, if the local police are not enforcing the same law.

Geoff

But they are not legal in this country. See my earlier post.

John
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