A change in the law allowing anyone who passed their driving test after 1997 to tow a large trailer weighing up to 3,500 kg has come into force.
Previously, if you passed your driver’s license after 1997 and wanted to tow, you were limited to trailers with a maximum weight of 750 kg. Following the change in law, the limit was increased to 3,500 kg. The additional towing test that was previously required had already been removed in anticipation of the automatic addition of heavier trailer towing categories to all licenses once the law is passed.
The government first announced in September 2021 that it would remove the additional test for towing trailers up to 3,500 kg, a move that was condemned at the time by safety charity IAM RoadSmart.
However, the removal of the trailer test is one of the reasons the government has been able to announce an additional 50,000 heavy-duty truck tests each year, which, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), will help a transportation industry struggling with a driver shortage. The DVSA maintains that “all motorists will always be encouraged to take training in towing trailers and caravans,” but this has not satisfied IAM RoadSmart, which is itself a provider of driver training.
During the consultation period, IAM RoadSmart raised concerns that the decision would worsen an existing safety situation, saying that the DVSA’s own road safety checks showed that up to 1 in 6 caravans arrested presented a serious safety problem. In addition, up to 4 out of 10 small trailers were also found with serious safety concerns by the DVSA’s own checks.
“The DSA had an obvious safety reason for introducing the test in 1997, and those reasons still stand,” says Grieg. “People need the right training to be able to operate an articulated vehicle, especially when they are doing it for the first time. “
The training for the soon to be scrapped trailer test was aimed at ensuring that drivers have the knowledge and confidence to deal with issues such as snaking – a sideways swinging motion of the trailer – or pitching, that is, when the front of the trailer lifts up and down, pulling the rear of the car like a seesaw.
IAM RoadSmart is particularly concerned with the growing popularity of RVing, driven by the trend of stays during the Covid pandemic, as research suggests that many participants in the RV boom have no prior towing experience.
What is the towing law?
In the current state of the law, only drivers who passed their exam before 1997 are allowed to tow trailers up to the limit of 3,500 kg, under the so-called “grandfather’s rights”. If you passed the test after 1997, you are only allowed to tow up to 750 kg, unless you pass the trailer test to add categories B and E to your license.
When the law changes this fall (the date is yet to be confirmed), all driver records will automatically update to include B / E categories, but the licenses themselves will not be updated until new photo cards are released. ordered.
All trailer tests starting September 20 are automatically canceled, but there is no refund or compensation for anyone who recently paid for training or testing. It’s also worth noting that current laws still apply until the rule change goes into effect in the fall, so towing an overweight trailer still risks a hefty fine.
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