by Countryside Alliance

As part of the Government’s plan to tackle the HGV driver shortage crisis, trailer towing tests are being scrapped to free up the time for the examiners to overlook extra lorry tests. Trailer tests will cease to take place from Monday 20th September, but we would advise that people who have not taken a test do not start driving with a trailer until the new rules come into force, once that is officially announced.

A spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance said: “These changes will make life easier for many in the rural and equestrian world although we understand the concerns of those rural businesses which specialised in preparing candidates for their trailer test. We would continue to urge those without prior practice or training in driving with trailers or caravans, to seek out guidance which can be accessed via the Gov.UK website, especially if handling and travelling horses or livestock.” 

There are currently three different regimes depending on when you passed your test, with those who have already taken it, not being eligible for a refund. Whilst the specifics of the new law are yet to be released, it will impact people differently based on when they passed their driving test. 

Licences issued before 1 January 1997
Those with driving licences issued before 1 January 1997 will not be affected by the changes and will be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM when the law changes. Your driving licence will be updated automatically by the DVLA to show that you are allowed to tow trailers. 

Licences issued from 1 January 1997 to 18 January 2013
Driving licences that have been issued between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013 allow the holder to drive either:

  • A car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (a total maximum of 4,250kg)
  • A trailer over 750kg MAM, as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (up to 3,500kg in total). You can find out more about vehicle weights here. 

Licences issued from 19 January 2013
Those with driving licences dated from 19 January 2013 can currently drive one of the following:

  • A car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (a total maximum of 4,250kg)
  • A trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg

To tow anything heavier than that listed above, you will have had to pass a car and trailer driving test.

There will be an obvious knock-on effect for those companies who specialise in towing training as well as safety concerns which have been voiced by many on social media. For those who do offer training in this area, the DVSA has said: “Professional training is still important for car drivers who want to tow a trailer, so we will continue to encourage those wanting to tow to seek training before towing a trailer.”

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