Motoring – Check Your Employees Driving Licences

Vehicle Category Descriptions 1

Towing Trailers

The area of towing is a fairly complex one, and a significant number of sub-categories and weight restrictions apply to this element of driving in the UK. If an employee is required to tow a trailer on business, it is essential that you view the driver’s licence and identify the vehicle and trailer combinations that they are entitled to drive, and that you also check the operational limits of the vehicle and trailer themselves.

Driving licences will state the maximum authorised mass (MAM) for towing vehicles and trailers, which is the maximum permissible weight or gross vehicle weight (gvw) that the holder is entitled to drive. In addition, you will need to check the manufacturer’s handbook supplied with the vehicle to ensure that the trailer does not exceed the vehicle’s maximum permissible towing weight.

Restrictions on towing entitlements have been in place since 1st January 1997. Drivers with a full car licence issued before this date are entitled to drive a vehicle/trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM, and a minibus towing a trailer over 750 kg MAM. Drivers who passed their car test after this date, however, are restricted to driving vehicle/light trailer combinations up to 3.5 tonnes in combined weight, as long as the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the vehicle.

Towing a trailer involves a wider skills set than merely driving a car or light van, especially when reversing. This was recognised by the introduction of an additional test and weight restrictions in 1997. Best practice within the fleet industry would suggest that employees be given some form of appropriate driver training, even where they are legally entitled to drive the vehicle and trailer combination without it. Training would reduce risks to both employee and employer.

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