Many of us will need to tow something with our cars at some point and whether that’s a caravan, horsebox, small trailer or a boat, you need to consider what your driving licence allows you to tow. There are laws governing towing that you need to be aware of and adhere to, including the changes to UK towing laws that came into effect on 16 December 2021.
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Towing a trailer is not simply a case of buying a car with a tow bar or having one fitted to your current vehicle, hitching up and setting off; there are some important things to be aware of in order to tow safely. These include learning how to manoeuvre your vehicle with a trailer attached and obeying a lower speed limit on both A-roads and motorways.
Read on for our complete guide to towing in the UK.
In order to drive a vehicle that’s to be used for towing on the public highway you need to have a driving licence. What you can legally tow will depend on when you passed your driving test.
If you passed your driving test prior to 1997, your licence entitles you to drive a vehicle and trailer with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 8.25 tonnes. The MAM is the combined weight of the vehicle being used to tow and the weight of the trailer being towed, along with the weight of the contents of the trailer. This will certainly suffice for the vast majority of recreational uses and would even allow you to tow something relatively light (up to three-quarters of a tonne) behind a 7.5-tonne truck.
The MAM you can tow if you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 is significantly reduced, dropping to 3.5 tonnes. However, if the towing vehicle has a weight of 3.5 tonnes the MAM limit is increased to 4.25 tonnes, effectively meaning that you could tow a three-quarter tonne trailer with a 3.5-tonne vehicle.
Previously, If you fell into the 1997 or after category you would have had to pass a trailer and driving test to tow anything heavier than the set limits. However, it was announced in mid-2021 that the additional trailer test would be scrapped and replaced by a new set of less stringent rules, which came into effect on 16 December 2021.