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Last month, authorities in Wiltshire conducted a four-day crackdown in a joint effort with the Central Registration and Identification Scheme targeting trailers and caravans. The point of the operation was to make sure drivers towing trailers were in full compliance with the law and common safety practices. More than 100 vehicles were stopped over the four days in mid-August.

Police officials charged 13 drivers with offences ranging from trailers being overweight to driving in a way that was considered dangerous. Some 19 drivers were given fixed penalty notices; one was found to be driving without insurance. Wiltshire officials said that while minor traffic offences were not enforced, police educated drivers to make sure they knew how to avoid future problems.

Mid-August was the perfect time for such an operation with so many people on the road for holidays. Police say their purpose was not to harass motorists or ruin holidays but to ensure the roads are kept safe for everyone. Like those of us in the training business, Wiltshire police want and expect drivers with trailers and caravans to know the law on towing. Ignorance can never be an excuse for non-compliance, especially in the event of a serious accident.

What the Law Says

The law on towing purposely addresses weight limits for tow vehicle and trailer combinations. Along with those limits are certain licence restrictions that apply to heavier vehicles and drivers who earned their licences after 1 January 1997. Full details regarding licencing requirements can be found on the HGV.UK website or by contacting the DVLA.

As for trailers and caravans themselves, they must be in good working condition and have passed a safety inspection prior to being taken on the road. Drivers should routinely check various aspects of safety including tyres, lighting, and so forth. Drivers are expected to do a walkaround inspection prior to beginning a journey.

Lastly, it is illegal to tow a trailer on UK roads without appropriate insurance. As the driver in Wiltshire found out, not having insurance can result in charges if a driver is caught. That does not even consider the additional liabilities should an uninsured driver be involved in an accident.

Know the Law, Get Trained

The experts at the HGV Training Centre encourage you to know the law on towing if you own either a caravan or utility trailer. Update your knowledge annually to account for any changes that may have occurred in the law over the 12 months. Finally, be sure to get the training needed to tow your trailer or caravan safely.

Most caravan owners will not need a special licence to tow their vehicles for recreational purposes. A standard class B licence will be sufficient. However, if the weight limit of your combined tow vehicle or caravan exceeds 3.5 tonnes, you may need a B+E licence. Earning such a licence requires a certain amount of training to be followed by a driving test at a government-approved facility.

Sources:

Caravan Times – http://www.caravantimes.co.uk/news/people/human-interest/wiltshire-police-crack-down-on-caravans-$21385789.htm

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