Thousands of drivers are unknowingly putting themselves at risk of heavy fines for towing trailers illegally. The prevalence of this offence increases as the weather improves, with more and more caravans taking to the road. All car driving licences have set restrictions on the size and weight of trailer that can be towed, but did you know that these limits vary depending on the date you passed your car test? Over the years there have been three versions of the rules, and if you ever tow a trailer with your car it is important to know what the laws are for your particular licence.
Caravan towing rules
Rules set by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) state that anyone who passed their car test after 1st January 1997 can tow a trailer that weighs up to 750kg, as long as their car has a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500kg, or a trailer over 750kg, where the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg. The MAM is the maximum potential weight of a vehicle, not what it weighs at any one time. Exceeding these limits can result in a fine of £1000 and also three points on your licence.
Generally speaking, towing a medium sized trailer with a standard car is unlikely to get you close to the limit, but larger vehicles such as 4x4s which weigh much more increase the risk of exceeding the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer, especially if that trailer is a large caravan. If the vehicle combination you wish to drive exceeds the limits imposed by your licence, you will need to take a B+E driving test. You can search for a trusted, local training provider that offers this type of training by clicking here.
If you passed your car test before 1997 you will already have the B+E entitlement on your licence, and this allows you to drive a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8.25 tons. To explain the licence restrictions in more detail, we have written a guide to trailer towing which can be found here.