AM Online

Sewells Best Practise: To tow or not to tow, that is the question

On January 1, 1997, the Second EC Directive on the Driving Licence brought about changes in the entitlement to tow trailers.

This means people who have passed their driving test since then – those up to 24 years old if they passed when 17 in 1997 – have far fewer categories on their driving licence than older drivers.

You would think everyone in the motor trade is aware of this, since driving beyond the terms of a licence is breaking the law and invalidates insurance, but some recent site visits make us wonder if this is the case.

As we arrived at one garage, the owner’s 21-year-old son drove on to the forecourt in a Discovery towing a two-axle trailer with a Renault Laguna on board for their used car stock.

Did his driving licence cover him? No. Nobody at the garage knew about the restrictions, and we have since visited a further three independent garages and a franchised dealership and none of them were aware.

Essentially, drivers who passed their test after January 1, 1997 can drive a vehicle with a trailer if the maximum mass of the combination does not exceed 3,500kg, and the maximum mass of the trailer is less than the unladen weight of the tow vehicle. Clearly, a Discovery, two-axle trailer and a Laguna far exceed that.

We understand that of the millions who have passed their driving test since 1997, only about 500 have taken a further test to expand their licence for towing. So, given the implications, we recommend you should check to make sure you are not asking your staff to break the law.

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