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New guide explains caravan towing limits

Aug 2 2012 Posted by Laura Canning

There have already been calls on towing safely this summer, after a survey last month revealed that a fifth of caravan owners have only taken the activity up in the past six months. Now an insurance company has released a guide to legal caravan towing limits, in the hope of helping caravan owners navigate the often tricky requirements and restrictions when towing a caravan.

No formal training or qualifications are needed to tow in many cases, but there are legal restrictions in place to prevent people towing caravans that are too heavy for their car, according to the Towergate Insurance guide.

‘When looking at driving licence restrictions, the key date to bear in mind is 1 January 1997,’ the guide says.

‘If you passed your standard test before this date, then you will have a Category C licence and your car and caravan can have a combined weight of up to 8.25 tonnes.

‘If you passed your test after this date, then you will most likely hold a Category B that limit for the car and caravan combined (also known as the Maximum Authorised Mass or MAM) comes down to 3.5 tonnes.

‘The exception to this rule is if your caravan weighs less than 750kg, in which case your car can weigh up to 3.5 tonnes, raising the MAM to 4.25 tonnes.’

To tow more than this, drivers will need to take the B+E licence test from the Driving Standards Agency, where an inspector will assess a driver’s ability to tow around the local area before assessing manoeuvres such as hitching up and reversing at the test centre. Drivers must also identify parts of the tow vehicle and have an eyesight test, and the caravan must fulfil specific criteria, such as weighing at least 1000kgs and having proper brakes.

Current recommendations state that a caravan’s Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) weight should be no more than 85 per cent of the towing car’s kerb weight.

Owners who tow caravans that weigh more than their car can be fined. Their caravan insurance is also unlikely to pay out in the event of an accident.