In Ireland, if you wish to drive a larger trailer, which exceeds the weight threshold permitted for B licences, you must hold a BE licence, under regulations.
A failure to drive with the correct licence type can take the form of prosecutions, driving bans, penalty points, hefty fines and often, court appearances.
A category B+E licence allows a combination of drawing a vehicle in category B and a trailer where the MAM of the trailer is not greater than 3,500kgs.
Unlike obtaining your B licence, where you must complete an essential driver training (EDT) structured programme in the form of twelve driving sessions with an ADI (approved driving instructor), there is no mandatory requirement to undertake official lessons in order to apply for or sit your BE licence test.
Trailer towing lessons
But, taking some lessons with a qualified instructor can allow you to learn best practice, break any potential bad driving habitats that you may have developed and familiarise yourself with potential test routes.
ADIs will cover driver licence requirements, assessing your trailer and drawing vehicle’s roadworthiness, coupling and uncoupling and securing your load.
The RSA states, “strongly recommend you seek professional tuition from an approved driving instructor in advance of your test”.
But, before you get behind the wheel to towing a trailer that falls into the BE licence’s weight bracket, you must hold a BE learner permit (apply from NDLS), and some parties may need to complete a DTT (driver theory test) – depending on their circumstances.
Once you have attained your learner permit, you can take lessons with an approved BE ADI if you desire and then practice outside of your lessons when accompanied by an experienced full BE licence holder.
Readers must note that until you get your own full licence for towing, you must always be accompanied by a party who holds a full licence for towing trailers (for at least two years) and has adequate towing experience.
Place an ‘L’ sticker on your drawing vehicle and trailer, as per the RSA’s advice.
Practice towing your trailer on different types of roads in varying conditions, including day and night.
Do not go straight to towing full loads – build up your towing practice gradually to comprehend and navigate the various challenges you can face, as a driver, when towing a trailer.
- Carry out vehicle checks, coupling, uncoupling and securing loads;
- Then, getting some practice towing an empty trailer;
- Move to a partially loaded trailer;
- Finally, a fully loaded trailer.
The RSA stresses that “you should always drive at a speed that is appropriate to your experience and the road and traffic conditions”.
“Beware that the maximum legal speed limit for a vehicle drawing a trailer on any road is 80 km/hr – unless a lower speed limit sign is posted.”
“These speeds apply even if the towing vehicle is a 4×4,” the body added.
Once you have sufficient practice and experience, you can apply to attain your full licence, which involves completing a practical driving test.
The driver theory test element also comes into play on the day of your practical driving test, where the driving examiner will ask you about the rules of the road, which you can familiarise yourself with in the RSA’s ‘Rules of the Road’ booklet, particuarly theory covering towing vehicles and trailers.
Like every other test, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” so put in practice before your test date and seek an ADI’s expertise if required.
In the next part of this article, we will preview what happens on the day of your driving test and requirements for your drawing vehicle and trailer.