Car and trailer legislation changes

The government’s plans to help to tackle the shortage of lorry drivers by creating an extra 50,000 lorry tests by stopping car and trailer testing. 

Part of the plan is to allow all car drivers to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg without the need for an additional licence when the law is changed, which is expected to receive Royal Assent this Autumn (2021)

To make more lorry tests available, DVSA will not be carrying out any car and trailer tests from 20 September.

The current licence requirements for cars towing a trailer still apply until the new legislation receives Royal Assent.

Drivers who passed their car test before 1 January 1997 can already tow a car and trailer without an additional licence.

What will change later in 2021

If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997, you’ll be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM when the law changes.

DVLA will update your driving licence record to show that you’re allowed to tow trailers. You’ll get category BE added to your driving licence when you get a new photocard driving licence.

You do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen. It will be done automatically.

What you can do until the law changes

Until the law changes later in autumn 2021, you must continue to follow the current rules about what you’re allowed to tow based on when you passed your car driving test.

You can be fined up to £1,000, be banned from driving and get up to 6 penalty points on your driving licence if you tow anything heavier before the law changes.

You’re only allowed to tow anything heavier if you’re being supervised. When you’re being supervised, you must:

  • display L plates to the front of the car and the rear of the trailer
  • be accompanied by a person who’s at least 21 years old and has had category BE on their driving licence for at least 3 years

What does this mean for businesses?

This might be welcomed as good news for many, however, it must be remembered that as a business, you have a duty of care under Health and Safety legislation to ensure your staff are safe, confident and competent to use any work equipment, this will include trailers if used for work purposes. 

My advice would be to offer training to anyone who needs to tow a trailer and especially if the driver has recently acquired their full licence or has not towed before.  Most commercial vehicle training organisations will be able to offer appropriate trailer training.

Don’t forget also, make sure you have a good driver safety policy in place, one that articulates your rules for towing.

You can view the new rules HERE