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Trailer Towing

Do your employees need to improve their skills and knowledge of trailer towing?

If your employees gained their car driving license on or after 1st January 1997, they were limited by law to:  

  • driving vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass (MAM);
  • towing a trailer up to 750kgs, or
  • a vehicle and trailer combination up to 3.5 tonnes MAM providing the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle. 

What will change and how it may affect your workforce? 

This requirement is going to change in November 2021. Any driver would be allowed to tow heavily loaded trailers up to 3500kg, and therefore a combined weight of anything up to 7000kg and 14+ metres long, on the road, without any formal assessment of competence to do so. The B+E driving tests have already been stopped and industry professionals are aiming to introduce a voluntary trailer towing scheme details of which are yet to be worked out and presented to the training industry.

Even though the law is changing, employers still have a Duty of Care under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), which states that regardless of the type or size of the business, employers must take appropriate steps to ensure:

  • the health and safety of employees and others who may be affected by their activities, including pedestrians, when at work; 
  • that employees’ work-related journeys are safe;
  • that employees are able to drive safely and all vehicles are fit for use;
  • that above conditions must be met including the time when employees are driving in a company car, a hired vehicle or the employee’s own vehicle.


The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that employers are required to carry out risk assessments, make arrangements to implement necessary measures, appoint competent people and arrange for appropriate information and training.

In practice we often find companies to believe that:

  • if their staff members hold a UK issued driving licence, they have the necessary skills to conduct themselves safely on the road whilst travelling to and from work and when carrying out company duties. This includes trailer towing entitlement holders. In reality a number of drivers may have very limited to none experience towing a trailer even though their driving licence allows them to do that legally.
  • their responsibilities are only to their employees and do not extend the Duty of Care to contractors, volunteers or the self-employed who assist them in their business/operation related activities.
  • their responsibility does not extend to include the vehicles owned by their staff members that they use for work duties, to drive to and back from appointments.

What effect Trailer Towing Licencing changes will have on work related safety?  

Current DVSA statistics show that with a national pass rate for B+E driving tests of 69.6% for 2019/20 and only 58% for 2020/21 there are between 30-42% of people taking this test in order to tow over a 3500kg gross train weight that are unable to demonstrate the minimum standard of driving and competence to tow loaded trailers on the road on at least their first attempt.

We encourage companies and organisations before allowing their employees to operate a vehicle with a trailer, to arrange a Trailer Towing Assessment session to establish the level of employee’s competence and based on findings/advice take any further actions if required. 

Hiring a delegate with limited trailer towing experience? We offer a one-day Trailer Towing Competency & Confidence Building Course with our DVSA accredited driving instructor.

Please get in touch to find out about subsidised training opportunities or funding that you may not be aware of.  Our profits support the local charitable work of Aberdeen Foyer with homeless young people and enables people of all ages to take the next steps towards learning and employment.

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