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Towing Rules Unclear For Younger Drivers

By raccars Published

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Drivers who have obtained their licences since 1997 may be unwittingly breaking the rules on towing because of unclear licence restrictions. Fines for exceeding towing limits can be up to £1,000 and three to six licence penalty points.

Licences issued from 1 January 1997 are classed as B category, with tighter towing restrictions than the earlier B+E category licences. According to DVLA data, over five million drivers hold B category only licences, of whom 1.2% have upgraded their licences to B+E.

B category licence holders can only tow a MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) of 4.25 tonnes when a trailer with a MAM of 750kg or lower is involved, or only 3.5 tonnes for trailers of more than 750kg MAM. In effect, a medium sized 4x4 towing a family caravan could easily exceed these limits, but many drivers are unaware of this unless they encounter a problem or a police check.

According to Trailer Training UK, a lack of understanding about the differences between the old B+E and the newer B category licences is a common problem for both private and commercial drivers. While caravan owners are often active in clubs and organisations offering information and advice, businesses with activities involving towing horseboxes, landscape gardening companies and adventure holiday firms, for example, often use younger drivers and larger vehicles, without being aware of the restrictions.

The Caravan Club is urging retailers of towing equipment, such as trailers, caravans and horseboxes, to be proactive in educating the public on what they can and cannot tow on different licences and explain to younger licence holders that they may be required to upgrade from a B to B+E category. A similar onus could be placed upon caravan insurance providers, many of whom do not even check that younger drivers hold a B+E licence when compiling a quotation.

While you can tow a caravan on a B licence by choosing your tow car and caravan carefully, it's quite easy to go for the licence upgrade. Nearly 12,000 licence holders passed the additional test last year and demand is growing. To take the B to B+E licence upgrade test costs £115 on weekdays and £141 in the evening, at weekends or on bank holidays - much cheaper than a new trailer or caravan. Some drivers may find they need to take some trailer lessons to ensure their towing meets the standard required.

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