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Caravan holidays have made a huge comeback this year. While some of this may be due to the fact that many people want to repeat childhood experiences, holidays abroad are becoming more expensive. The Government’s decision to make it illegal for families to take their children out of school for a week or a fortnight’s family holiday has changed parents’ options. The ruling has meant that travel companies have taken advantage of this, and so many people with school age children can no longer afford a family holiday abroad. Whatever the reason for the resurgence in popularity of caravan holidays, if you’re towing a caravan, especially as a new driver, then you need to check the rules on this.
Changes in the Law
At the moment there is no licence specifically for towing a caravan, but if you took your test before 1997, there may be some additional requirements. According to the RAC, a lot depends on how large the caravan is and how much added weight you might be pulling. This could mean you may have to take what is an additional driving category test, known as category B.
Category B enables you to drive a car that’s towing a small vehicle, i.e., something under or with a maximum weight of 750kg. This is known as MAM, or the maximum authorized mass. To put it plainly, if the combined weight of your car and caravan exceed a combined mass of 3,500 kg, or if your trailer or caravan exceeds the maximum authorized mass of 750kg then you will need a further category test known as B+E.
Passed Your Test After 1997?
The rules are a bit different if you passed your driving test after 1997. After that date most drivers will already have a car licence that includes category B (as licences listed after this date do) then the following applies:
1. You can tow a caravan/trailer that is no heavier than 750kg.
2. You can tow, providing the weight of your caravan and car combined does not exceed 3,500kg.
If you have a caravan larger than 750kg or if the combined weight of the caravan and vehicle exceeds 3,500kg, then, as with drivers who took their test prior to 1997, you will have to take the B+E category test. Drivers who took their test before January 1st 1997, and who have B+E categories with their licence, are allowed a combined MAM of 8.25 tons. It shouldn’t be too hard to find the weight of your vehicle and caravan combined, as this should be in the RAC handbook. If it’s not listed, you should be able to get your vehicle weight from the DVLA through your registration number.
Length and Width
There are further guidelines as to how long a caravan or trailer can be. The maximum width of the caravan or trailer that your vehicle is towing is 2.55 metres. For a vehicle towing anything that weighs up to 3,500kg combined, the combined maximum length of vehicle and caravan/trailer is 7 metres. Make sure that you check all the maximum weight and size widths before you make your holiday plans!