Q364: What are the rules for towing caravans / trailers with cars?
Towing a caravan/trailer is an involved matter. It's not possible to cover in detail all the various issues you will need to consider. However, basic information is provided below:
Driving licences issued on or after 01.01.97
From 01.01.97 drivers who pass their car driving test (category B) can:
- Drive vehicles up to 3500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) with up to 8 passengers seats with a trailer up to 750kg MAM.
- Tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the drawing vehicle and trailer doesn't exceed 3500kg.
If you want to tow a trailer outside these provisions you'll need to take another test – usually for category BE.
Driving licences issued before 01.01.97
If you passed your car driving test (category B) before 01.01.97, you will usually be entitled to drive a motor vehicle and trailer with a combined MAM of up to 8250kg.
It's against the law to carry passengers in a caravan when it's being towed.
It is also important to stick to the required speed limits – they are different for cars towing a caravan:
- 60mph - motorways and dual carriageways
- 50mph - single carriageways
- 30mph - built up areas
Motorways – third lane
On the motorway, a car towing a caravan is not permitted to use the right hand (offside) lane on a motorway, which has three or more lanes open for use.
Make sure your car and caravan are roadworthy with regard to their mechanical condition e.g. lights, tyres, brakes, number plates, mirrors etc.
Weights and plates
Make sure the weight of your drawing vehicle, your caravan and the combined weight of your car and caravan doesn't exceed the various weights shown on the plates on your drawing vehicle and caravan.
Make sure you comply with any requirements in relation to your car's tow ball e.g. weights, heights and breakaway couplings.
The basic requirement is that you must be able to see clearly down both sides of your caravan and 4 metres either side at a distance of 20 metres behind the caravan. If your existing car mirrors cannot provide this or you are doubtful as to whether they can, it is safest to fit extension towing mirrors otherwise you may commit an offence.
Make sure your insurance covers towing a caravan/trailer – most insurers will need to know if you fit a tow ball to your vehicle and want to tow a caravan.
It's important to realise that the above only represent a basic guide to what's required. If you need further information, we would suggest you contact an approved dealer or an organisation such as the Caravan and Motorhome Club – please see the link below:
The link below provides further information in relation to towing trailers: