A specific category BE qualification will be needed to tow a trailer weighing in excess of 750kg when the combined vehicle and trailer weight come to more than 3.5 tonnes. Drivers will need to pass a separate test for this.
To tow a trailer weighing more than 3,500kg with a car or small vehicle (Category B), drivers need to pass a test for category C1E.
The situation is unchanged for drivers who obtained their licence before January 1, 1997.
Their entitlement to tow trailers up to a gross vehicle weight of 8.25 tonnes, and a minibus with trailer over 750kg, is retained until the expiry of their licence.
Choose good quality equipment
Witter is one of the major towbar suppliers in the UK and a spokesman stressed the need for fleet operators to choose good quality equipment.
He said: “The towbar is now recognised as a safety-critical piece of equipment and its design and strength are now closely controlled by European legislation.
"Although towing capacities can vary between models, Witter always designs and tests towbars to the worst case conditions.”
Witter towbars are subjected to a two million cycle fatigue test before sale.
The test can take anything from two to five days, during which the towbar is repeatedly loaded with the maximum it will endure.
Before the start of any journey, drivers should ensure that:
- The load is distributed evenly
- The trailer is not overloaded
- The load is secure
- The lights are working correctly
- The seven or 13 core cable and plug is undamaged
- A breakaway cable or secondary coupling is used. Make sure this is undamaged and correctly connected
- The tyre pressures are correct and the tyres are undamaged and the tread depth is legal
- The wheel nuts/bolts are tightened to the correct torque (remember to also check the towing vehicle)
- The trailer is correctly coupled to the towball or pin
- The coupling height is correct
- The trailer has secure mudguards
On the road:
- Always keep within the legal speed limits, your capabilities and the road and weather conditions at the time
- If the trailer starts to snake or swerve, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently. This is an indication that you are going too fast or the trailer is incorrectly loaded.
- Do not brake harshly on a bend as this will make the trailer unstable. Reduce speed in plenty of time when approaching any hazard
Source: The AA