Towing compliancy risks rise as licence demographics change
Businesses are being urged to ensure their drivers have the correct licence and insurances for towing, including on company cars used for leisure purposes, following recent reported incidents.
According to Licence Bureau, there are around 4,000 reported incidents a year involving all forms of trailers and road policing units have recently highlighted several incidents in which drivers have been stopped for towing without the correct licence. The licence offence carries a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points but more importantly from a fleet perspective, it means that compliance is compromised and insurance invalidated.
The firm also warns that many businesses fail to fully understand due to legacy circumstances and the confusing nature of appropriate licences.
Much of the confusion relates to the actual date on which an individual passed their test. If a driver passed their test on or after 1 January 1997 they will have a Category B licence, which means they can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) with up to eight passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg). These drivers can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg.
If a driver has a Category BE licence they can drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer depends on the BE ‘valid from’ date shown on the licence. If the date is: before 19 January 2013, they can tow any size trailer; on or after 19 January 2013, they can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg.
Malcolm Maycock, managing director of Licence Bureau, said: “Ultimately, the responsibility for ensuring any work-related journey meets compliance standards is that of the fleet or human resource manager. Quite simply they need to make sure licence checks are carried out correctly, drivers are aware of what they can and cannot drive, and operational procedures are developed to suit.”
Recommendations from Licence Bureau include treating everyone as not entitled to drive until you have confirmed they are, identifying which vehicles are fitted with tow bars – including company cars where towing is for leisure purposes, and risk-assessing the vehicle, driver and trailer.