The UK government is considering scrapping the B+E test (BE in Ireland), enabling car drivers to tow trailers without taking a second test.
Ministers have put forward several proposals to address the ongoing HGV driver shortage.
In doing so, they aim to free up examiner capacity and “streamline” the stages of tests required and trailer testing content.
Overall, its objective is to benefit the speed at which drivers gain licences and reduce “unnecessary” barriers in becoming qualified.
Trailer towing test
According to data, the DVSA currently conducts 30,000 car and trailer tests annually with a “steady” increase in volumes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government stated that if it removes the B+E test requirement, it would still encourage drivers to obtain professional training before towing a car and trailer combination.
In a statement, the government said:
“However, we recognise we would not be able to mandate that requirement, so it would not necessarily ensure road safety standards were maintained or that there would be an economically viable level of work for some trainers.”
“This option would offer savings for individuals who would not need to take a test. There may also be some benefits for some businesses who use a car or van and trailer combination – such as gardening services or horse transportation.”
In the UK, the rules for car drivers who wish to tow a trailer, caravan or horsebox are different – depending on when they passed their test.
Drivers who passed their car test before January 1st, 1997, can tow a car and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).
Drivers who passed their car test on or after this period can:
- Drive a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM;
- tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg MAM.
If they want to tow anything heavier, they must pass a car and trailer test (B+E).
Licencing in the UK
The government also desires to explore removing other licencing requirements.
Allowing drivers to take one test to drive both a rigid and articulated lorry, rather than having to pass a test in a rigid lorry first, and then another in an articulated lorry;
- Also, allowing drivers who want to use a bus or coach to tow a trailer to take one test with a trailer, rather than having to pass a test without a trailer first
- Finally, allowing the driver training industry to assess the off-road manoeuvres part of the test.
It is seeking views from the public on these measures. The consultation process began on August 10th and will run until September 7th, 2021.