Horseboxes will become safer but more expensive according to experts, following the introduction of whole vehicle approval tests last month (29 October).

All new horseboxes 7.5 tonnes and over are now required to have a certificate of compliance (COC) in order to get a tax disc from the DVLA.

The certificate has 72 technical requirements for new vehicles, covering everything from brakes to lights, of which about 15 apply to horseboxes.

However, to get a certificate horsebox manufacturers will have to take the new lorry to one of seven test centres.

The test itself costs £237, plus the additional cost of getting the lorry to the station.

A cheaper option is for a manufacturer to self-certify, but that has to be agreed by the Vehicle Certification Agency.

Malcolm Tagg of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association said the new test should “improve safety overall, [and] create greater professionalism.”

But it will result in higher costs and possible delays in getting horseboxes inspected.

“The buyer needs to think ahead and speak to the manufacturer to see if what they want is feasible within whole vehicle type approval,” Mr Tagg told H&H.

“Horsebox owners might have to modify their ideas to meet the new type approval.”

For example, all seats will only need seat belts fitted if they are “intended to be used while the vehicle is in motion”, which is no different from the current legislation, but some types of seat may not comply with the new regulations.

Kevin Parker, a Lancashire-based horsebox manufacturer, said the new rules will “make new horseboxes safer and get rid of people who are building them in a garage”.

But the additional expense means Mr Parker will be forced to add £500-1,000 onto the price of his horseboxes.

Jon Phillips of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners described the new legislation as “a step forward for the industry” and said buyers must now start asking for the certificates.

“For years, responsible manufacturers have been plagued by cheap imitations that have cut corners and, in very many cases, been downright dangerous,” said Mr Phillips.

“We have come across vehicles where the body was rubbing on the tyres when loaded, the gas and electrical systems had major and often dangerous faults, and one where the actual horse container was only held on with one bolt,” he said.

Victoria Walton, from NFU Mutual, added: “From an insurance perspective, we welcome any changes that will improve safety standards.”

H&H ref (20 November 2014)