With the warm weather in the UK Brits will want to hitch up the caravan and get away for the weekend. However, restrictions on driving licences could mean that certain motorists are unaware about the capacity they can tow and subsequently land in trouble. Motorists may then be unaware you need to pass another test before being able to tow a heavy trailer or caravan.
If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you can drive a car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM, according to the DVLA.
In addition to this you can tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg. The maximum authorised mass describes the total vehicle weigh and its maximum load, something which can be found in the owner’s manual.
On average cars weigh around 2,000 kg meaning that drivers don’t have much extra room to accommodate the weight of the caravan and its contents. Any driver caught towing a caravan or trailer which exceeds these maximum values can face a hefty £1,000 fine and three penalty points in the UK.
The weight of the car towing the caravan and the size of the caravan has a serious bearing on how heavy the total load is. A mid-large SUV towing a caravan designed for families would therefore likely be at risk of exceeding the limits.
RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “Motorists are entitled to drive and tow vehicles of different sizes and weights depending on what categories are shown on their driving licence.
“It might seem odd, but anyone who passed their driving test before 1 January 1997 is entitled to drive and tow considerably heavier vehicles than those who passed their test on or after this date.
“Pre-1997 licences, for instance, permit motorists to drive minibuses and tow a heavier trailer
“In practice, this means holders of older driving licences can drive laden vehicles that weigh up to 7,500kg – and can also tow a trailer, so long as the combined weight including the load doesn’t exceed 8,250kg.
“This entitlement easily covers most ‘car plus caravan’ combinations.
“But drivers who have passed their test from 1 January 1997 onwards can only drive a laden vehicle that weighs up to 3,500kg.
So don’t get caught out, if you need to upgrade your driving licence, the next step would be to attain your B+E – Car and Trailer licence.