Tips for Towing the Mark


Even well-maintained tactical vehicles can unexpectedly break down. That’s why it’s smart to plan for the worst-case scenario and know the right way to tow. Here are some towing pointers:

  •   A tow bar should be the first choice before using chains, ropes or cables.

  When using a tow bar, also connect a safety chain between the two vehicles in case the tow bar breaks or disconnects. Use a chain with an appropriate load rating.

 If a tow bar is unavailable, connect cables, chains or ropes to the pintle of the prime mover and to the lifting shackles of the towed vehicle.

 Do not put hands near the pintle hook when aligning it with the lunette eye hook.

 If you must tow in heavy traffic, tie the front lifting shackles of the towed vehicle tightly to the rear lifting shackles of the prime mover and connect the air brake lines.

 Use a ground guide when moving a disabled vehicle. The ground guide must remain visible to the driver at all times. See Chapter 11-4, Section (9)h in AR 385-10, The Army Safety Program (Oct 11), for more ground guide rules and tips.

 Never allow anyone to stand between the two vehicles when the prime mover is backing up to the disabled vehicle.

Never allow anyone but the driver to ride in the disabled vehicle being towed.

Prior to towing, make sure all personnel are clear of vehicles before removing wheel chocks.

Use reasonable speed for road conditions. The maximum speed limit when towing off road is 15 mph. On paved roads (highways), speed can be increased to 25 mph. However, terrain, weather and other conditions may require keeping speed lower.

Avoid making sharp turns when towing. Keep turning speed at 5 to 10 mph to reduce skidding risk.

Avoid hills with greater than a 20 percent incline. The weight of a disabled vehicle can push or pull the tow vehicle, causing loss of control.

Before disconnecting the vehicles, make sure both vehicles are on level surfaces with wheels chocked.

Know Before You Tow

Review towing procedures in vehicle TMs and FM 4-30.31, Recovery and Battle Damage Assessment and Repair (Sept 06).

Recovery operations are a specific skill set. A trained vehicle recovery specialist (additional skill identifier H8) should be part of the recovery team whenever possible.

 Warning: If a disabled vehicle’s brakes are not working, do not try to flat tow it. Call for dedicated wrecker support.

One for the Road

Remember, failure to assess towing risks and use due caution before and during recovery operations can cause equipment damage. But worse, it might result in injury or death.  

For more safety pointers, check out the USARC/Safety Center’s Driver’s Training Toolbox at:


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