The rules around towing a trailer with a car are undoubtedly confusing and have, until now, been dependent on when the car test was taken. This guidance document clarifies the new rules and provides further advice to ensure safety standards are maintained and drivers remain compliant.
A car test passed before this date is not affected by any changes and drivers can usually tow a trailer combination (car and trailer) up to 8250kg MAM.
The driving licence category for towing is shown as BE.
To find out when a test was passed the information can be found on the back of the photocard driving licence against the respective category (cars – category B) and is shown in Column 10.
From 16th December 2021 any driver with a full car licence can now tow a trailer legally up to 3500kg. It should be noted however that the vehicle must not tow a trailer that exceeds its gross train weight (GTW). This information can be found in the manufacturer handbook or on the VIN plate in the engine.
For those drivers who are now able to tow a trailer the driving licence record will be automatically updated and can be accessed online. To do so the driver can access their record through the DVLA portal https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence. The driver will need to have their driving licence number, National Insurance number and postcode as shown on the Licence. When the photocard is due for renewal category BE will be added.
The rules around towing with larger vehicles has not changed but tests for cars and trailers are no longer available to be booked.
For a large majority of drivers towing is a new experience and whilst a test is not required companies’ responsibility for safety does not change. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 clearly states that ‘employers also have responsibility under Health and Safety legislation to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work activities. This includes the activity of driving on public roads.’. This includes company or hired vehicles and even an employee’s own vehicle.
To remain compliant, it is recommended that drivers receive additional training to ensure they are competent, and safe. This should include hitching, handling, reversing, and recommended safety checks. Training can be found from individual Approved Driving Instructors (ADI’s), and driver training companies through internet searches and recommendations.