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Caravan towing laws you need to know

May21/ 2019

Summer is almost upon us, which means the UK’s roads are soon likely to see a rise in the number of caravans and that means drivers need to be aware of the specific rules relating to towing them – or risk a fine of £2,500.

You could also be banned from driving and get three penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

What can I tow with a car?

The laws on towing depend on when you got your driving licence.

Licences issued from January 1, 1997

If you got your licence on or after January 1, 1997 you can:

  • drive a car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
  • tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg

MAM refers to the limit on how much the car can weigh when it’s loaded.

If you want to tow anything heavier than this you must pass the car and trailer driving test.

Licences issued before January 1, 1997

If you passed your car test before January 1, 1997, you’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM.

How much weight can I tow?

Most cars have a maximum weight they can tow, which can normally be found in the handbook or specification sheet.

The car’s ‘gross train weight’ may also be listed on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car.

According to the law, the gross train weight is the “weight of the fully-loaded car plus fully-loaded trailer”.

It can’t be exceeded. If you car doesn’t include this information you should not use it for towing.

How to avoid being fined:

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

To stay safe and avoid any fines, the equipment you use with your caravan must meet certain standards and be used in the correct way.

Click here to learn more about these safety checks.

What tow bar and mirrors do I need?

If you get a tow bar for your car, it needs to be “type approved”. This means it meets EU regulations and is designed for your car.

Type-approved tow bars have a label with an approval number and details of the vehicles it’s approved for.

And don’t forget you need to buy towing mirrors. These mirror help you have an adequate view of the road behind you.

If your caravan is wider than the rear of your car you’ll need suitable towing mirrors.

If not, you can be fined up to £1,000 and get three penalty points.

Other important towing tips:

  • Keep the caravan as light as possible to prevent any damage to your car or the caravan. Never carry passengers in the caravan when you’re towing it.
  • Don’t go over 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.
  • Your trailer must have a working brake system if it weighs over 750kg when it’s loaded. You’ll also need a breakaway cable or secondary coupling in case the trailer becomes detached from your car.
  • You must display the same number plate on your trailer as on your towing car.
Article first appeared on Wales Online
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