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Compulsive chicken choker
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been asked on two occasions to clarify the current UK regulations on towing trailers, concerning weights & licences. Typically the law has areas that aren't clear, but there is a difference in entitlements to those that passed their test BEFORE January 1997 (B+E entitlement) and those that passed after (B only entitlement). Also, if you have been banned from driving since January 1997, but passed your test before January 1997, when you get your licence back you lose your pre-1997 entitlement to a B+E category.

The extract below is copied & pasted from the Direct Gov website and I have also attached a government guide. The grey area centres around whether the weight of the trailer concerns the ACTUAL weight, or the PLATED MAXIMUM WEIGHT (ie. if the trailer's plated maximum weight exceeds your licence/cars towing limit, but its actual laden weight (eg. if its empty) is below, are you braking the law?).

The way I read it, if you have a category B only licence, you need to watch the PLATED weights rather than actual weights, but it isn't clear.

If you are unsure, read up & ask, but don't expect the same answer from everyone...... If in doubt, err on the side of caution.

This link will take you to a Government publication on towing:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consu.../@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_185825.pdf

Towing trailers or caravans with vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes

In this article reference is made to the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of vehicles and trailers. This should be taken to mean the permissible maximum weight, also known as the gross vehicle weight.
Category B: Vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes MAM and with up to eight passenger seats

Category B vehicles may be coupled with a trailer up to 750kgs MAM (allowing a combined weight up to 4.25 tonnes MAM) or a trailer over 750kgs MAM provided the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle, and the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes MAM.

For example:

a vehicle with an unladen weight of 1.25 tonnes and a MAM of 2 tonnes coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1.25 tonnes could be driven by the holder of a category B entitlement. This is because the MAM of the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes and also the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the drawing vehicle

Whereas

the same vehicle with an unladen weight of 1.25 tonnes and a MAM of 2 tonnes when coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1.5 tonnes would fall within category B+E. This is because although the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is within the 3.5 tonnes MAM limit, the MAM of the trailer is more than the unladen weight of the drawing vehicle
Vehicle manufacturers normally recommend a maximum weight of trailer appropriate to their vehicle. Details can usually be found in the vehicle's handbook or obtained from car dealerships. The size of the trailer recommended for an average family car with an unladen weight of around 1 tonne would be well within the new category B threshold.

Towing caravans

As for towing caravans, existing general guidance recommends that the laden weight of the caravan does not exceed 85% of the unladen weight of the car. In the majority of cases, caravans and small trailers towed by cars should be within the new category B threshold.

An exemption from the driver licensing trailer limit allows a category B licence holder to tow a broken down vehicle from a position where it would otherwise cause danger or obstruction to other road users.

By passing a category B test national categories F (tractor), K (pedestrian controlled vehicle) and P (moped) continue to be added automatically.
Category B+E: Vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes MAM towing trailers over 750kgs MAM

Category B+E allows vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes MAM to be combined with trailers in excess of 750kgs MAM. In order to gain this entitlement new category B licence holders have to pass a further practical test for category B+E. There is no category B+E theory test. For driver licensing purposes there are no vehicle/trailer weight ratio limits for category B+E.

 

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Compulsive chicken choker
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
hi do you know anything about the one man tow "a" frames ? ta chris
The RAC have now stopped using them & switched to braked dollies because of their legality not being clear. Again, I am no legal expert on this, but going from the information I've got, an unbraked A-frame may only be used by a registered recovery firm to recover a broken down vehicle to a place of repair/safety. Some will claim that an A-frame attached to a vehicle turns that vehicle into a trailer, negating the need for tax, MoT etc providing a light board is used on the back. No-one has ever been prosecuted for this, so there is no legal "test case", but the problem is that any trailer weighing over 750kgs must have brakes. There aren't many vehicles that weigh less than 750kgs. As far as I am aware, the law states that any vehicle with wheels in contact with the highway must be taxed, MoT'd and insured, so if it isn't likely to be classed as a "trailer" it needs to be classed as a road legal vehicle.

There are braked A-frames on the market that work by having a bowden cable attached to the vehicle being towed's foot brake pedal, which is then activated by an over-run coupling on the A-frames hitch. Obviously these aren't a "quick fit universal" arrangement as it involves drilling the cars bulkhead & fixing brackets in place for the cable. On these the A-frame is usually attached to the car by a custom made frame that is permenantly bolted to the cars chassis, the A-frame being secured by quick release pins. These are the type commonly seen being used behind motorhomes. The grey area with these concerns the brakes. There are EU specifications for the efficiency of trailer brakes and apparently an A-frame operating a car's braking system while th engine isn't running does not meet these spec's due to the servo not being operational with the engine off.

Lots of people still use A-frames, I had a universal one for 15 years and used it for towing all manner of cars to various places, the majority of those cars had no MoT or tax, some were just rolling shells. I always used a light board, but my A-frame was not braked. It was fine and towed well, BUT trying to slow down in the wet was scary as the car behind tried to keep pushing you forwards. I passed plenty of police cars over the years without a problem, but as time goes on the police seem to clamp down on anything they perceive to be "iffy" so I sold the A-frame.

Personnally I wouldn't use one. Plenty do, but I would err on the side of caution and I now just hire a 4 wheel car transporter trailer whenever I need one.

See the National Trailer Towing Association web site for more details Members Home Page
 

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I belive a braked two wheel dolly combines the need for brakes and with two wheels lifted of the road tax and mot are not needed.
Mind you I could [and often am] wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Somewhere I've got an old copy of "Cars & Car Conversions" which has a towing article & explains that you can't use a dolly for towing stock cars & other race vehicles that aren't road legal as all four wheels should be off the ground. Makes a mockary of the scrap buses & HGV's that are often towed on suspended tow with the back wheels on the ground.

Like a lot of things, if no-ones ever been prosectued its hard to have a bench mark case to use as reference.

My attitude now is to try and make whatever you're doing "look" as legal as possible if you aren't 101% sure it is legal, hence why I no longer use an A-frame. Personnally I would use a braked dolly, but have you seen the price of decent ones???? My local trailer hire place charges me £40 a day for their 16 feet bed Brian James trailer so I could never justify going out & buying my own trailer.
 

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What a stupid rule. What makes someone who passed there test after jan 97 less able to tow a larger trailer? I passed my test after this date and towed boats and a caravan for years before I found out I couldn`t. I have to take a test to tow these boats now yet an average driver that may have no experience of towing but passed pre jan 97 can tow what they like. Has anyone done the towing test whats it like? Cost?
SSP
 

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Gym Junkie
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I did a towing test but not with a car, I passed before Jan 97 anyway and have full C+E and have also completed CPC as well and still didn't understand what I could tow with a car, the regulations must have been written by the same person who wrote the drivers hours :beuj:

Thanks for doing this Gary its a lot clearer now, hopefully it will save someone from unwittingly falling foul of the regulations.
 

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Compulsive chicken choker
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What a stupid rule. What makes someone who passed there test after jan 97 less able to tow a larger trailer? I passed my test after this date and towed boats and a caravan for years before I found out I couldn`t. I have to take a test to tow these boats now yet an average driver that may have no experience of towing but passed pre jan 97 can tow what they like. Has anyone done the towing test whats it like? Cost?
SSP
I can't remember the costs, BUT if you've plenty of towing experience it is (apparently) very straightforward. Do a Google search for B+E towing lessons. There's lots of folks towing over their licence entitlement simply because the rules are never easy to find & when they are they are even harder to understand.
 

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Chap just came today to look at mine he said it cost him £500,which he said was cheap.If caught it's 9 points +£500 fine as your insurance is void.
 
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