Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, May 06, 2002

Question: I often see one car or truck towing another down the highway with ropes or some other shaky connection. It does not seem safe. Is it against the law?

Answer: I remember breaking down in a corner of Wyoming many years ago, and having a friend come and tow me more than 100 miles to Salt Lake City using a tow strap. That was stupid, dangerous, and I should have been cited. State law requires vehicles being towed be attached by a rigid tow bar with additional safety chains. The law (13 AAC 04.275) provides many specifics and exceptions, and it generally assumes long distance, pre-planned tows. The law does allow for emergency breakdowns, when it is important to move a vehicle a short distance. But even on those occassions, the law dictates that "there must be displayed on the connection a white flag or cloth at least 12-inches square."

As far as enforcement we use discretion, but in general an open road tow using only a rope or chain will justify a citation. Rigid tow bars can be rented from truck rental companies.

If you have questions you would like to ask a trooper, send them to Alaska State Troopers, P.O. Box 817, Seward, AK 99664, or e-mail them to brandon_Anderson The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.

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