However you’re feeling about the first tow, it’s best to be well informed and know what to do. Read on to find out about UK caravan laws, towing licences and caravan driving tips, as part of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week series.
Caravan towing licences
You may be wondering, do you need a licence to tow a caravan, or can I tow a caravan? Well, caravan-towing laws changed in 1997. If you passed your test before 1st January 1997 then you should be entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer up to a combined maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8.25 tonnes. However, if you passed after that date, and not taken an extra driving test, you will only be entitled to drive a category B3 vehicle coupled with:
- A caravan up to 750kg MAM, or
- A caravan over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the car and caravan is less than 3500kg gross train weight (GTW) and the MAM of the caravan is less than the unladen weight of the car.
To increase the weight you’re able to tow, you can book into a B+E test, the car and trailer test, which will essentially give you a caravan towing licence. You take the test in an unladen category B vehicle towing a suitably braked, unladen trailer of at least one tonne MAM.
The weight of the loaded caravan should be no more than 85% of the car’s kerb weight, a figure that you’ll find in the car’s handbook. You should avoid overloading the car or caravan and always ensure the weight of the loaded caravan/trailer is within the car’s towing ability.
Towing a caravan can be a daunting prospect at first. With experience comes confidence, and once you’ve got the hang of driving with a caravan or trailer, it will seem more natural. Towing and manoeuvring courses are available from the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club if you need some extra tuition.
The caravan should always be towed either level or slightly nose down. Towing a caravan will alter the performance of the car, so you’ll need to give yourself more time and space for everything. Remember you’ve got extra length on your vehicle, so you’ll need to take corners more widely than normal, otherwise the back of the caravan may clip the kerb. Having a good view of the rear of your unit will help with this. You can use extension mirrors, but make sure you take them off when you’re not towing – it’s illegal to drive with them on if you don’t need them.
When towing a caravan, rules of the road are different to driving a car. The legal speed limits for caravans are 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways. You can’t tow on the outside lane of a motorway with three or more lanes, unless instructed to do so.
Although it is not a legal requirement to insure your caravan, it makes sense to protect your holiday home on wheels. Caravans are often covered by your motor policy while being towed, but this will not cover your personal items inside the caravan, theft, emergency accommodation expenses or storm damage.
Adrian Flux’s caravan policies include free legal expenses cover, up to 120 days European cover and £1 million worth of Public Liability Cover. Read more about our affordable touring caravan insurance here.
You must display the same number plate as your car on the back of your caravan.
This must conform to the relevant British Standard and be illuminated at night.
Your caravan must have a working rear light panel that will show indicators and brake lights while you’re driving. Remember to check before driving off and keep an eye out for anything that changes during your journey. Your car must show that the indicators are working while you are driving, for example with a special light or buzzer when you are indicating.
Finally, be a considerate driver – If you find traffic is building up behind you, find a suitable place to pull over and let the other vehicles pass.
Are you a caravanner? What are your top tips for towing a caravan? Did you take any courses before you towed for the first time? Let us know in the comments section.
Join us again tomorrow for day three of the Adrian Flux Caravan Week, when we’ll be looking at top tips for furnishing a caravan.