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Trailer test change welcome but road safety must remain a priority says farming union

By David Porter

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New trailer legislation has been wlecomed
New trailer legislation has been wlecomed

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that, from autumn 2021, there will be an automatic ability for those with a full car driving licence to tow a trailer with a car without an additional test.

The move is part of Government efforts to free up the reported backlog in driving tests.

The exact date that the law will be changed has yet to be confirmed.

This will only apply where the trailer is up to a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 3500kg.

Until such time as the exact date change is known, members are advised that those who passed their driving test after 1997 must not tow unless they have undertaken the test.

Doing so risks a fine of £1000, driving ban or six penalty points.

Those who passed their driving test prior to January 1997 have acquired rights on towing.

In the interests of road safety, as well as to help comply with Health and Safety legislation, members are being encouraged to ensure that all staff who may have cause to tow a trailer with a car undertake additional training. Combined with regular maintenance of trailers, this should ensure that the risk of accidents when towing is minimised.

When responding to the Government consultation on the proposed change to trailer towing, NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical committee welcomed the costs savings for businesses, but also highlighted significant concerns regarding road safety and the need for training.

Committee chair Tom French said: “The fact that the UK Government is looking at ways to address test backlogs is welcomed.

"However, there are significant concerns over road safety on rural roads with potential for more inexperienced drivers towing trailers.

“For this reason, we are urging members to ensure that anybody towing has had adequate training.

"Voluntary training will remain available through the usual training providers and undertaking this will ensure that businesses reduce the risk of accidents and do not fall foul of health and safety legislation.”

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