Date confirmed for law change on car and trailer towing rules

  • The new car and trailer towing law, which will allow many more people to tow horse trailers and caravans by removing the requirement to pass an additional test, is expected to come into effect on 15 November.

    The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed the date of the law change today (19 October). This follows the scrapping of the car and trailer (B+E) towing test in September.

    In broad terms, people who passed their car driving test from 1 January 1997 will be allowed to tow trailers up to 3.5T maximum authorised mass (MAM) without undertaking another test from 15 November 2021, subject to parliamentary approval.

    “DVLA [Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency] will update your driving licence record to show that you’re allowed to tow trailers. You’ll get category BE added to your driving licence when you get a new photocard driving licence,” states the latest Government update.

    “You do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen. It will be done automatically.”

    But drivers are also urged to check the small print surrounding the date they passed their test and the MAM of the vehicle and/or trailer they wish to tow before getting behind the wheel. This is because the date they passed their car driving test looks set to still have some bearing on the rules, even after the law changes. There are also specific rules for Northern Ireland.

    Drivers are also warned not to jump the gun ahead of the law change.

    “Until the law changes on 15 November 2021, you must continue to follow the current rules about what you’re allowed to tow based on when you passed your car driving test,” states the Government website.

    “You can be fined up to £1,000, be banned from driving and get up to six penalty points on your driving licence if you tow anything heavier before the law changes.

    “You’re only allowed to tow anything heavier if you’re being supervised. When you’re being supervised, you must: display L plates to the front of the car and the rear of the trailer [and] be accompanied by a person who’s at least 21 years old and has had category BE on their driving licence for at least three years.”

    Decision to scrap car and trailer towing test

    The DVSA announced plans to scrap the car and trailer (B+E) towing test on 10 September as part of Government plans to tackle the HGV driver shortage. The reasoning behind the decision was to free up testing capacity for lorry drivers.

    The decision sparked serious road safety concerns, with training schools, equine transport rescue service providers and road safety organisations all strongly urging drivers to undertake training before hitching up. Some also felt the change would not help to significantly increase the number of HGV drivers.

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