It is a legal requirement that if you have passed your driving test after 1997 then you will need to hold a category B+E (trailer and caravan towing) qualification to legally tow anything over 750Kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass).
Anyone who passed their driving test before 1997, are legally allowed to drive a large 4x4 with a trailer, horse box or caravan. However, this doesn’t mean that you are automatically confident at handling, reversing, parking or carrying out safety checks on your vehicle and the trailer. According to recent national surveys, incorrect hitching of a trailer is the most common cause of single-vehicle accidents. Here are 4 ways to ensure you stay safe and legal when towing a trailer:
Take the test
As mentioned above, if you passed your driving test after 1997, then you will need to take a practical test to get B+E entitlement and if you hold a category B (car) license.
During your practical test you will encounter the following:
- An eyesight check – you will be required to read a number plate from either 20 metres or 20.5 metres depending on whether the number plate is new or old style.
- 5 vehicle safety questions also known as ‘show me, tell me’ style questions.
- Driving test where you will be asked to tow on dual-carriageways, one-way systems, motorways and spend 10 minutes doing independent driving.
- Show your reversing skills by reversing your car and trailer as specified by the examiner.
- Uncoupling and recoupling your trailer and car.
Do a trailer training course
Whether you have a driving licence before 1997 or you need to take your trailer driving test you may want to attend a trailer training course near you to ensure you pass your test or you are competent to tow with your car. There are many trailer training courses available throughout the UK which can be tailored to your requirements, for example, if you need help with reversing or safety checks etc
Do your trailer checks
Before every journey your trailer needs to be checked for the following:
- Is the trailer loaded correctly? You need to ensure that your trailer isn’t overloaded (as specified by the manufacturer), have too much nose weight and that the contents within your trailer are safety secured.
- Is the 7 core cable, plug and breakaway cable undamaged?
- Has your trailer got the correct number plate attached to it? Is the licence plate legal?
- Are your trailer tyres at the correct pressure as specified by the manufacturer?
- Are your trailer tyres at the correct tread without any cuts or worn away sections?
- Is your trailer level with the towing vehicle when coupled?
Ensure everything works after hitching your trailer
Once your trailer is attached to your towing vehicle it is good to check that your indicators work and that your brakes are functioning once your journey has commenced. Test the brakes at the beginning of your journey and somewhere that isn’t going to affect the safety of yourself and others.
For more detailed course outlines and guidelines visit Hush Farms for more information about the qualifications most suitable for yourself, volunteers or employees.
Photograph copyright Hush Farms