Towing Regulations, and Driving Licence Entitlements

I passed my driving test way back in 1964 and therefore can tow a Maximum Gross Train Weight (MGTW) of up to 8250kg. However, drivers who passed their tests on or after 1 January 1997, (allowing a few months for them to have learnt to drive), have restrictions on what they can tow, unless they pass a further test, for B+E entitlement. Basically, they can tow no more than a MGTW of 3500kg or 4250kg* if the trailer weighs less than 750kg. (*this reduces further to 3500KG. for new drivers in January 2013).

Ironically, those with heavier cars and 4x4s, wanting to tow a small caravan or trailer, although more stable units, cannot legally do so, whilst a less stable lighter vehicle and caravan set-up will be allowed.

These limits do not seem to be widely known. None of my children, and many of their friends, who all passed their driving tests after January 1997, were aware of it!

Information on what can be towed isn’t readily available and has to be researched. Interestingly, I couldn’t find any information on your website!) The caravanning clubs and magazines are always encouraging younger people to take up caravanning, and readily give advice as to what they should tow with their cars and what caravans to buy.

However, no mention ever seems to be made as to what they can legally tow in relation to the date on which they passed their driving tests, nor is there any query as to whether or not they have obtained the additional qualification. I wonder also how many dealers, keen to sell, check whether younger purchasers will be legally towing the caravans they sell to them.

A second hand caravan provides cheap holidays for hard-pressed young families many of whom fall into the category of having passed their driving tests after 1 January 1997.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging younger people to take up caravanning, and I am sure that most will tow very responsibly, but it is important that they are fully aware of their towing restrictions, so that they do not fall foul of the law and also invalidate their motor insurance.

It is worth pointing out that these restrictions do not just apply to caravans, but to any large trailers, such as horse boxes and boat trailers. I often see young people, usually driving large 4x4s, towing horse boxes or boat trailers and always wonder whether they are legally qualified to do so. As the years go by there will be a majority of towing drivers who passed their driving tests after January 1997 and 2013, many of whom blissfully unaware of the towing restrictions on their licences.

Finally, I have also been told that drivers reaching the age of 70 and therefore renewing their driving licences do not automatically retain their existing entitlement to tow, but have to request this and also pay for a medical test to do so. Can you confirm whether this is the case or not please?

Asked on 11 November 2012 by Bazza68

Answered by Honest John
Yes, it is the case that 70 year olds wishing to retain all their entitlements have to pass a medical. Sorry for the omission.

This FAQ now gives links to the relevant information:
Tags: towing driving
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