Ever since 1st January 1997 you’ve needed a license to tow heavy trailers in the UK. But no longer.
The UK uses the term “MAM”, Maximum Authorised Mass – this is the total mass of the towcar and trailer, equivalent to the GCM in Australia. The current UK law is that you need a license endorsement to tow more than:
- a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total)
- a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
As of the UK’s autumn, that requirement is being scrapped and you can tow trailers up to 3500kg with no training.
The reason, according to news reports, is a shortage of examiners who are needed to address the demand to train new lorry (truck) drivers.
This is interesting news to say the least, and disappointing. Towing heavy trailers is a difficult, complex, non-inutitve task and risk of getting it wrong is high, and the consequences can be dire, so I’d like to see training introduced in Australia, and polls of my readers indicate they agree. Nothing in a driver’s pre-tow experience sets them up to tow, which is why training is so important. A new tower needs to understand and be proficient in:
- Weights (GCM, GVM, weight distribution and more)
- Hitching up
- Sway prevention, detection and correction
- Various road laws to do with trailers
- Mirror setup
- Braking (controllers, overruns)
- Trailer loading
- Trailer tyre pressures
- probably more I forgot!
Frankly it’s amazing we don’t have more accidents. I’d like to see before/after license endorsement stats on towing accidents in the UK, but I’m not sure they’re available.
In the meantime, here’s some videos, and don’t forget the Tow Weights Calculator.