TOWING A TRAILER OR CARAVAN
To tow a trailer or a caravan you must have a full car driving licence.
Passed your test before January 1st 1997
Then you can tow a trailer or caravan so long as the vehicle/trailer combination does not exceed 8.25 tonnes.
Passed your test on or after before January 1st 1997
Then you can tow a trailer behind a category B* vehicle if the trailer is 750kg or less in weight.
If the trailer exceeds 750kg you may tow it behind a category B vehicle, provided that the trailer and vehicle combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes and the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the trailer doesn't exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle. If the trailer you wish to tow exceeds this your will have to pass a practical category B+E test.
If you wish to drive a vehicle with a MAM exceeding 3.5 tonnes you will need to pass a category C or C1 test.
* A category B vehicle is any car, including any four-wheeled vehicle, with a MAM of less than 3.5 tonnes which as no more than eight passenger seats.
Before towing any load you should consult your vehicle's manual to learn the following information:
- the maximum permissible trailer mass which can be towed by your vehicle
- the maximum noseweight which should be applied to the tow ball.
There are separate and also legal limits on the laden weight of unbraked trailers. You should know what the limits are for your vehicle.
It is recommended that the weight of a loaded trailer does not exceed 85 per cent of the empty weight of the towing vehicle.
Correct weight distribution is essential for safe towing.
- heavy items should be loaded as low as possible so that they are mainly over the axle
- bulkier, lighter items should be distributed to give a suitable noseweight at the towing coupling.
Any load must be carried safely. It must not put other road users at risk. It must be securely stowed within the size and weight limits for the vehicle. The load must not move or fall from the vehicle whilst in transit.
Before starting a journey check the trailer or caravan:
- is loaded correctly, with the right noseweight on the tow bar
- is correctly hitched, with the breakaway cable or secondary coupling, properly connected and the coupling head fully engaged and locked
- lights and indicators are connected and working correctly
- jockey wheel and assembly is fully retracted and in the stowed position
- braking system is working correctly
- windows, roof light and door are closed
- tyre pressures are correct
- no cracking in tyres and that the tread depth is correct
- check all additional fuel supplies, such a liquid gas, are turned off and secured.
At the beginning of the test the examiner will ask you to explain five separate safety checks.
You will need to fit exterior towing mirrors so that you have a clear view on both sides of the caravan or trailer.
On The Road
Always be aware of the extra weight and how this will affect braking and acceleration.
- allow more time and brake earlier when slowing down or stopping
- allow three times the normal distance and time when overtaking
- take account of the extra length especially when emerging or turning a junctions
- if you are holding up a queue of traffic pull over and let them pass.
Snaking - if the trailer or caravan you are towing starts to snake you should:
- ease off the accelerator slowly
- allow a certain amount of 'twitch' in the steering
- reduce speed until the snaking has stopped
Some speed limits are lower when towing a trailer or caravan. Unless signs indicate otherwise you must not exceed:
- 30 mph in built-up areas
- 50 mph on single carriageways
- 60 mph on dual carriageways or motorways
You must not tow a trailer or caravan in the outside lane of a motorway having more than two lanes, unless other lanes are closed.
Book the test by calling 0300200 1122 or online at direct.gov.uk/drivetest.
Take your driving licence with you to the test. If it doesn't have your photo on it you must take your passport with you as an additional form of identification.
The vehicle you intend to drive must be roadworthy and:
- fitted with nearside and offside externally-mounted mirrors for use by the examiner
- have a current MOT test certificate if it needs one
- be mechanically sound and all equipment required by law must be fitted and working correctly
- have a spare wheel that is intended for permanent use, not a space saving wheel intended for temporary use
- be fully covered by insurance
- have a valid tax disc
- display L plates ( D plates in wales) at the front of your car and the rear of your trailer
- have seat belts that are clean and working properly
- have head restraints fitted
- have an additional interior rear-view mirror for the examiner to use
- have an audible or visible warning device to confirm that the indicator lights are working.
The unleaden trailer must have a MAM of at least one tonne and the car and trailer together must be able to reach a speed of 62.5 mph (100 kph). If the car is registered after 1 October 2003 the trailer must have a closed box body.
You must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres.
Safety Check Questions
You will be asked to explain or demonstrate five separate safety checks.
The Drive - this will last for around sixty minutes. You will have to drive in a variety of traffic situations and on a variety of roads. You will have to drive to a good, safe standard and will be assessed as a learner driver would on a standard practical driving test. However, you will not be required to do:
- an emergency stop
- reverse around a corner
- reverse park
- turn in the road
This part of the test will take place on a special manoeuvring area. It tests your ability to safely stop while travelling at 20 mph.
The Reversing Exercise
You will need to reverse your vehicle and trailer into a restricted space.
Uncoupling and Recoupling
You will need to be able to uncouple the car and trailer, park the car and then recouple the two safely.
- park in a safe place on firm, level ground
- ensure the brakes are applied on the car and trailer
- ensure that the jockey wheel, legs or other device provided for supporting the trailer after uncoupling are lowered correctly.
- disconnect the electric lines and stow away safely
- remove any fitted stabilising equipment
- remove any safety chain or coupling and move the trailer clear of the car.
- ensure the brakes are correctly applied to the trailer
- move the car so that the trailer can be safely and easily coupled to it, and apply the parking brake
- attach the trailer to the car and check that the coupling is secure by using a method appropriate to the car and the trailer
- attach any safety chain or device
- fit any necessary stabilising equipment
- connect the electrical lines
- ensure the wheels, legs or other supporting devices are raised and secured safely
- check the operation of the lights and indicators and make sure the correct number plate is fitted
- release the trailer brake, ensuring that the car's parking brake is applied.