Little-known driving law could see caravan owners hit with huge fines

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Major driving law changes were introduced last year, enabling more motorists to tow caravans without any additional testing or training. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) unveiled the law changes in December 2021, having been delayed since that summer.

The rules mean motorists who passed their driving tests from January 1997 can now tow heavier trailers, up to 3,500kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass).

Under previous rules, drivers needed to pass an additional driving test to be able to drive larger vehicles and tow trailers.

There were calls from road safety experts for drivers to be strongly encouraged to take extra training or tests to ensure they are confident.

While this is now no longer a legal necessity, they argued that it would allow motorists to learn the rules of the road before towing a weight they are not familiar with.

At the time, the DVLA also said it would update any driving licence records to show they are allowed to tow trailers.

This includes the BE category, which will be included when people apply for a new photocard licence.

Clare Egan, head of motor at Admiral Insurance, warned drivers to ensure they are confident when driving heavier trailers.

She said: “For some, this could be their first-time driving with a caravan, so there are a lot of things they need to bear in mind for the benefit of all road users. 

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“It’s important to make sure motorists feel confident behind the wheel, are clued up on towing regulations and have the right insurance to protect both the car and caravan.”

She added that before setting off on their journey, motorists should double check that their driving licence allows them to town.

They will also need to make sure the vehicle used to pull the trailer is up for the job, so they can have a safe and enjoyable journey.

Clare Egan continued, saying: “In late 2021, the driving laws changed which means anyone with a full driving licence can drive tow a caravan without any additional qualifications, but only if the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the towing vehicle and caravan doesn’t exceed 3,500kg. 

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“Drivers still need to check the weight of their vehicles as not all caravans fall into this category.  

“Remember, you could be fined up to £1,000 and get three penalty points for failing to use suitable towing mirrors which would put a real dampener on your holiday.

“So make sure you’re fully prepared before you set off.” 

While not as many drivers will be out and about with their caravans this winter, many drivers will still be looking to get away.

Given that the winter weather has not settled in so far, some may be looking to escape for weekend getaways while they can.

The law changes were made after a public consultation found that 64.9 percent of respondents said they agreed or strongly agreed with allowing car drivers to tow a tailor without an additional test.

However, the consultation found over 5,000 respondents believed drivers would still want some training before towing a trailer, even if this was not mandatory.

Even if drivers are storing their leisure vehicles away for the winter, drivers still need to ensure that they are careful, removing any gas tanks and rotating their wheels on a regular basis.

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