Trailer: For the purposes of clarity on this website, the word "trailer" refers to any item which can be hitched to and towed by a vehicle, including horsebox, caravan or vehicle attached by tow-road or bars.
MAM: Maximum Authorised Mass, the maximum combined permissible (or gross) weight of the towing vehicle and trailer, irrespective of whether that weight would be carried or not.
B: Category B entitlement is normally a car or van with two axles and four wheels with a gross weight not exceeding 3500kg
+E: The category required to tow a trailer in over 750kg if the MAM exceeds 3500kg
You are required by law to hold a full B+E category entitlement on your driving licence if you intend to tow a trailer which has a gross weight over 750kg and the capability of the combination of the towing vehicle and the trailer could weigh over 3500kg.
If you have passed your category B test (car) before 1st January 1997, you will automatically have this entitlement on your driving licence until your driving licence expires or if you receive a disqualification and your driving licence is revoked.
If you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 and you wish to tow a trailer that requires +E you must take and pass the B+E practical driving test before you are allowed to tow unsupervised and without "L" plates.
A driver without B+E entitlement can tow a trailer, if the combination of the vehicle and trailer is less than 3500kg and gross weight of the trailer is less than the un-laden weight of the towing vehicle. A driver who has passed their test after 1997 can tow a trailer with a gross weight of around 1.5 tons, as long as the towing vehicle and trailer are closely matched. If the conditions are not met exactly it can result in the driver towing illegally and also being uninsured which could carry a maximum of 9 penalty points and a fine of up to £1000, and in some cases a driving ban.
If the driver were to be involved in a collision, this could lead to serious consequences for both the driver, and if they were towing as part of their duties, the organisation and the responsible person within the company, whether the driver was employed, self-employed or a volunteer.
Legalities aside, The Trailer Towing Training Centre strongly recommend anyone who intends to tow, whether for personal or business use, undertake some form of training course not only for their own peace of mind, but to ensure your knowledge of towing law and the safety checks involved when attaching a trailer to a vehicle are thorough and up-to-date, even if you have a pre-1997 driving licence.
Towing a trailer of any description is very different to just driving a standard vehicle and there are more considerations that you need to be aware of. The Trailer Towing Training Centre believes that safety is paramount and anything that can be done to improve this is of utmost importance.
Examples of correct combinations:
|Land Rover Discovery 300TDi:||GVW - 2720kg|
|MAM - 6220kg||(6720kg if modified)|
|Maximum towing capability:||3500kg Overrun brakes||(4000kg if modified)|
|Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4:||GVW - 2505kg|
|MAM - 4505kg|
|Maximum towing capability:||2000kg|
|Ifor Williams HB505 Horse box trailer:||GVW - 2700kg|
|Ifor Williams BV84 trailer:||GVW - 1400kg|
The Land Rover Discovery 300TDi is legally capable of towing both trailer examples; however the Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 may only legally tow the HB505 in this example if the trailer were not fully loaded, and instead only loaded to the remainder of the vehicle's own MAM.
Were the HB505 to be fully loaded, it may not be towed by the Land Rover Freelaner 2 TD4, as this would be an offence. Furthermore, it may adversely affect the handle characteristics of the steering, braking and cornering of the towing vehicle and, if a collision occurred, the driver may be liable for prosecution under the law of Construction and Use, as well as possible not being correctly insured by ignoring the maximum towing weight of the vehicle.
Towing a trailer for work
In addition to complying with the requirements of B+E entitlement, drivers must use tachographs if the combination weighs over 3500kg and employers must also reduce the potential risk to staff members who tow as part of their duties by ensuring they are correctly trained and that their knowledge of the equipment and how to use it is up to date. Failure to comply with this health and safety requirement could lead to serious consequences if the driver is involved in a collision or is injured, or injures someone else whilst driving, reversing or coupling / decoupling. Staff refers to anyone employed, self-employed, sub-contracted or volunteering for an organisation irrespective of business size or business type and includes charities and not-for-profit organisations.
The current legislation:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers, regardless of the type or size of the business, to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of employees and others who may be affected by their activities, including pedestrians, when at work. This includes the time when employees are driving in a company car, a hired vehicle or the employee's own vehicle.
Companies, organisations, Directors and Managers must take steps to ensure that the requirements of Health and Safety legislation regarding driving for work are met to avoid prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act and the Health and Safety (Offences) Act in the event of death caused by a collision or incident which is caused by a lack of due diligence and duty of care.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states employers are required to carry out risk assessments, make arrangements to implement necessary measures, appoint competent people and arrange for appropriate information and training.
The use of Tachgraphs when towing for commercial use:
The Trailer Towing Training Centre can help your organisation to establish a pro-active approach to incorporating and managing an effective Work-Related Road Safety policy in-line with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act 1999. The Trailer Towing Training Centre will tailor solution to your organisation's needs and ensure your company complies with all current legislation.
These could include:
- Correct driving/towing for work policies
- Drivers/towing handbooks for staff
- Driving licence checks
- Training and retraining
- Trailer surveys / safety checks
- Staff certificates
On completion of training, all staff members who took the course will receive certificates of completion and more importantly will be correctly trained to tow safely for the company.