New rules for towing – Coming soon | Meet the Trudgians

New rules for towing – Coming soon

Posted by on Sep 13, 2021 in Featured, Technical | 0 comments

New rules for towing – Coming soon

Be honest, when you are sat waiting for something how often does the Guinness surfer advert of the 90s run through the back of your mind? “Waiting, that’s what he does….Tick followed tock followed tick..” supplemented by that amazing soundtrack of Leftfield… yeah, I recall it often.

Today is just one of those occasions, I’m sat in a waiting room, about to meet a man about a dog. This dead time waiting for someone has given me space to consider the recent announcement of the new rules on towing a trailer.

To understand what has happened, we need to know what was in place and how this now effects UK licence holders, so hold tight here is a summary:

If you passed your full driving test before Jan 1st 1997, you would have BE privileges on your UK licence. Meaning you could drive a vehicle and trailer of a combined Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 8,250Kg (that’s a maximum of a 7,500kg vehicle with a 750kg trailer)

So, If you passed your driving test after Jan 1st 1997, then you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total) Which is pretty useless in when considering caravanning. In this context, the rules stipulate that you can tow a trailer over 750kg as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg

To tow anything heavier, you would need to sit an extra test to gain the BE categories on your licence.

A full explanation can be found on the GOV.UK website

Over the years, this has placed quite a complex problem on manufactures and dealerships matching cars to caravans making sure they are suitable for towing (matching) and ensuring they are within the legalities of the drivers licence and any restrictions. Upcoming vehicles are heavier due to their hybrid or electric power-trains and that means finding an acceptable caravan and car combination for under 3,500kg is a very difficult prospect.

Ok, so for the good news. From the 20th September 2021 test bookings for car and trailer driving tests are being cancelled. Further law changes this Autumn will mean If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997 and need the BE categories, you’ll be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM when the law changes. In fact, you will automatically have B+E added to your licence when you require a new Photo Id driving licence.

3,500Kg MAM caters for pretty much all caravans on sale in the UK. So, checks on weights now revolve around a good match from car to caravan, the ability of the towing vehicle to legally and safely pull a chosen caravan and that the caravan itself has not been overloaded. That’s an article for another day…

So, all good then. Well this is where my opinion is split. On one hand it is great that the legislation is changing to allow all UK licence holders to hitch up and head off. It is great news for anyone wanting to upgrade or update a caravan to something bigger. But on the other hand, does this now mean our roads could potentially be full of people with no prior training or experience hitching up a 2 tonne caravan and heading off to the Cornish coast. The likelihood is yes, and if the truth be known it already happens.

With the upcoming changes, wouldn’t it be a good concept to see manufacturers, dealers and insurance companies offer a tangible, financial or lucrative incentive to the driver to take on board some extra training? Sure, the national clubs offer training packages, but these are only available for members and for those who seek extra tuition. It is not offered at the point of sale or as a part of the new caravan.

A concept like, get £500 cashback off the price of a new caravan if training is booked? or a percentage off an insurance premium? Maybe dealerships could offer training as part of the starter package? I have no doubt the industry will discuss ways of improving driving standards and methods to encourage new caravaners to take on board extra training. We will have to wait to see what happens with regards to driving standards and the position of the caravanning industry. As I stated earlier. Tick followed tock followed tick….

 

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