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Towing Trailers


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45 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

Problem is, there is a massive backlog in tests, and now things are opening up they are likely to be inundated with regular licence training, as well as the 'recommended' trailer  stuff.

Part of this is to free up training for hgv, which is where we have a shortage....

That actually makes some sense!

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1 hour ago, monkie said:

I wonder what insurance companies have to say? I imagine if you have just passed your test and saved up enough to insure yourself you should read the terms and conditions very carefully to see if they cover you for towing irrespective of the law change. 

Don’t think it’ll make any odds. As said, people could still tow legally anyway. It was just a lower cap. If you are legally entitled, then insurance companies won’t be able to contravene it. 

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I have held a licence since the mid 1970's and towed all sorts with all sorts. Now that my personal background is out of the way I can get on to my point of this post...

I was listening to Any Answers on R4 this afternoon and the subject of the shortage of HGV drivers  came up, several callers were HGV qualified themselves and most made the point that the industry is mostly made up of middle aged or older males, that poor wages had forced many to move into better remunerated, less stressful professions that offer nicer working conditions and less antisocial hours away from families. Low wages had caused the industry to take advantage and employ drivers from less well paid EU countries who were happy to accept what was essentially better pay in the UK than they could earn at home. Many of these foreign drivers had returned home as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

These were the views of those who had called in who have worked in the industry for years.

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2 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

Let's hope the result is fairer compensation  for the truckers -we don't get all the stuff we want without them, after all.

I agree. This is storm that has been brewing since the Blair era in my opinion. 

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1 hour ago, monkie said:

I agree. This is storm that has been brewing since the Blair era in my opinion. 

A lot of stuff is still brewing from then. The damage that man managed to do is incredible and his continued arrogance and denial is even more incredible. 

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2 hours ago, Simon_CSK said:

I have been towing trailers for over 30 years and while I have had one or two incidents I have never had an accident while towing. In all of that time I have towed small trailers, caravans and larghe trtailers with cars as heavy as Range Rovers. 

The amount of training, I passed my driving test over 30 years ago, amounts to zero hours which is typical of my generation. I found it strange at the time tha legislation was introduced and find it stranger still is is being recinded. 

Agree completely. 

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after reading the replies, maybe I was a bit hasty, I've  towed I've various types of trailers in my driving time since 1982,   but I've seen & heard of to many caravans overturned during summer visitor season on the A30 hills down here, just through people driving to fast & most likely forgetting they have a  big box on the rear. but as we were in EU the laws had to change so UK didn't get fined by the unelected in Brussels.so seems OK to go back to the way it was. 

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Thought this topic might get a bit of attention.

For me the contentious part is not the training comments as I am all for that, it was the veiw that anyone who is not trained will now instantly cause carnage and that we are better than the rest. I see it like this, there is a view held by some er older people that drirng at 70 mph is OK but hit 71 mph and you will cause instant death to hundreds. This discussion is like that  we are OK but the others won't cope when they go out and rent a trailer just for a bit of fun. Why, they are still the same as anyone else on average, so yes the numbers may increase by volume not that it is checked I suspect,  but the average perctage will be the same.

I didn't read the whole gov site but I got the idea that the change was to remove licence differences before a new requirement came into force as having three levels was unmanageable? I could well be wrong though.

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Being able to take the HGV test for articulated straight away is definitely a good step forwards! It will not only save time, but money as well. I had to pay twice for what was essentially the same lessons to get my CE.

As for HGV drivers from Eastern Europe, that is a problem over here as well. I understand them wanting to make a living, but it's unfair competition for local companies and drivers and conditions are often far from great for them as well.

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1 hour ago, missingsid said:

it was the veiw that anyone who is not trained will now instantly cause carnage and that we are better than the rest.

I don't know if this is aimed at my comments, but if so this is taking what I said out of context. It's a fact thay driving is dangerous (like I said previously, it's the only thing that most of us do that could potentially land you in prison for killing someone) towing increases that danger. I'm sure we have all experienced other drivers not giving us space when we are towing because they have no idea that a loaded vehicle pulling a trailer needs extra distance to safely stop. 

If in the work place for example you have to do something as part of your job that is potentially dangerous, you must take training and have a competency assessment, plus refresher training. Not rely on just being shown the ropes by someone who has done the job for years who themself has not been assessed nor had proper training. I don't think driving should be any different for the safety of everyone, if anything the system should be tightened. 

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If my point isn't recognisable then I am not going to labour on it.

At the end of the day it's just a social forum and not a policy decision site. We all have different views and gulfs that may or may not be close able.

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Yes, I agree with you there and that will always be the case on any forum with differing views and opinions (I think we are all civil on this forum compared to many others). 

However I have not stated there will be instant carnage, these things rarely happen over night. My concern is a general erosion of safety standards. I hope I am wrong on this. 

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Driving standards in the UK have fallen year on year for the last 30 years. Nothing to do with 1997 decisions. The lack of common sense is partly to blame, lack of vehicle understanding, lack of involment with other road users etc etc. The modern world.

I have a MAM on my licence of 8,200kgs and have used every kilo of that for almost 40 years, all over Europe. The same issues before 97 still existed after. Primarily inexperience and lack of use. Caravaners being the biggie.

I can't see the roads of the UK becoming disater zones. One of the good things about modern vehiles is they are better designed for towing, with more flexible power, better brakes and usefull additions, like reversing cameras.

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The rules post 1997 were confusing for a lot of people and there are very valid points raised above that they created situations where tow cars were being used that were less suited to get around the total train weight. A caravan being towed by a Disco/RR has got to be safer than being towed by a saloon car that will likely be close to it's maximum train weight.

I do agree that some sort of training a bit like the CBT for bikes would be a good idea to make sure that people know the basics surrounding hitching and unhitching plus weight distribution when loading

Far more significant than the trailer test being dropped are the changes to the HGV test IMO. Whilst being able to do one test and gain C and C+E at the same time would have saved me a lot of money and time I think the time spent in a rigid is valuable - a long rigid and an artic are very different beasts to drive.

Dropping the reverse part of the test and the couple/uncouple I find unbelievable. I know they are saying it will still be checked as part of the training but I feel those things are far too significant to drop. Imagine an incorrectly coupled artic on the road?

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I think the lack of a refresher course is a problem. Too many people only tow once in a blue moon. Chainsaws have a mandatory refresher test - albeit a bit skewed. Living in a very rural area, with a lot of very narrow minor roads, without hedges to bounce off can be interesting. This is a popular holiday area. The number of times I have to offer to reverse a caravan has increased considerably over the last few years. This year has seen a big jump, with all the purchase of caravans for UK biased holidays.

I like the idea of the trainer signing off the reversing section, instead of the examiner. It allows for potentailly better training - with the onus being on the Trainers liability

As someone who once held an HGV 1, I must admit I do have concerns with the 'dumbed down' version

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2 minutes ago, rusty_wingnut said:

Very frustrating, I had just spent a fair chunk of money obtaining my trailer licence, having towed illegally for years, I felt it time to go by the book, expecially as I was moving the digger regularly.

 

What a waste of money that was !

This is the biggest thing for me here - My other half did her test a few years ago. It doesn't sit right to just scrap all that and make it free again but it is what it is. I have a pre '97 licence so was glad when she did her test as I didn't have to drag the horse trailer around anymore for her (plus being a farmers daughter she could reverse more fluidly than me anyway!). I don't think the test ever had anything on trailer loading - I always thought that was possibly more important than a lot of the other bits covered in the test/training!

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8 minutes ago, reb78 said:

This is the biggest thing for me here - My other half did her test a few years ago. It doesn't sit right to just scrap all that and make it free again but it is what it is. I have a pre '97 licence so was glad when she did her test as I didn't have to drag the horse trailer around anymore for her (plus being a farmers daughter she could reverse more fluidly than me anyway!). I don't think the test ever had anything on trailer loading - I always thought that was possibly more important than a lot of the other bits covered in the test/training!

For me this is the exact opposite and is a bit of a result - my OH has been getting training from me on towing trailers with L plates. Her need to tow is infrequent and would always be local so it never really felt worth doing the test given the cost of it so I always do the towing. This now means she can nip round locally with the trailer

 

I didn't do the trailer test as I did my C+E so not sure if there was anything on loading. There certainly should have been!!

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22 minutes ago, reb78 said:

This is the biggest thing for me here - My other half did her test a few years ago. It doesn't sit right to just scrap all that and make it free again but it is what it is. I have a pre '97 licence so was glad when she did her test as I didn't have to drag the horse trailer around anymore for her (plus being a farmers daughter she could reverse more fluidly than me anyway!). I don't think the test ever had anything on trailer loading - I always thought that was possibly more important than a lot of the other bits covered in the test/training!

Fair point. I'm a Lantra Trailer Handling Assessor. Two thirds of the assessment has nothing to with the actual towing. It's about legalities with loading, maintenance, drawbar weight, lighting etc

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1 hour ago, L19MUD said:

I didn't do the trailer test as I did my C+E so not sure if there was anything on loading. There certainly should have been!!

I don't remember anything but a short remark on that, while it is indeed one of the most important parts...

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I wondered when this would pop up on here... and was going to post it if I hadn't been beaten to it.

I'm torn between the changes being good and bad. 

I passed my car test in 2008, so was well into the post '97 rules. But it was never that clear until the last year or two maybe exactly what the rules were at any given time. From memory they changed the weight classifications and how things were calculated 3 or 4 times. That's not taking into account the post-2013 rules which were different again. So I suspect many people were towing things they shouldn't have been. As has been mentioned above, the weight rulings in many cases meant you could tow a trailer/caravan of a given weight only with a car and not with anything inherently safer IMO like a much larger Land Rover or 4x4. It also meant at one of the stages I could have towed an unbraked trailer upto 750kg but not a braked trailer if its MGW was over that 750kg  even if it was empty and or loaded to the same overall weight as the unbraked trailer. So in that respect it does clear things up. I'm sure there will be many out there either with grandfather rights or having passed the test that drive unsafely with a trailer. So I don't think it will change that. If you're destined to drive like a knob you'll do that whether you've been tested or not. I can also think of friends that have done the trailer test and pre97 license holders that tow and still can't reverse. The old man being one of them, bless him. He can get it on the drive but it's never first time. I think for a lot of caravanners the need to reverse has been nulled by the rise in motor movers. Which whilst great for things like putting the 'van down the side of the parents house is invaluable (even if his reversing skills were up to it, it doesn't have the space for it), has meant people just pull up on site and unhitch. The very first time I ever tried backing the 'van on the drive (to one side of a hammer head) I did it first time and have done since. But having a big interest and minimal experience of cars/tractors/trucks I had a bit of experience. Many years as a kid making Lego stuff that steers you gain a huge understanding of how a trailer reacts in reverse. I also coached Mom to put it on the drive, I think that was only one shuffle forwards. I've also backed fridge trailers at work on numerous occasions for those that have passed their test.

I also think the test doesn't help with people understanding how to load a trailer having seen grandfather rights drivers and tested drivers. I'm sure chatting to friends that have done it that they didn't have much if any info on it. I'll never forget seeing a couple pull up on a caravan site next to us. Big twin axle behind an old BMW saloon. couple and toddler. They had 4 different seating sets with them including a cast iron table and two chairs :lol: and then from the very rear of the caravan, a ~35-40" CRT telly that the couple struggled to lift between themselves :lol:. How they managed to get there in one piece I don't know. My parents have always been anal about loading and whenever the 'van has been changed it's been weighed once loaded, but also every item that's been loaded has been weighed and added to the spreadsheet. Some 'vans over the years have been horribly nose-heavy prior to loading anything due to layout/equipment, so the loading has always been tweaked to suit each model. Nose weights have always been checked before every trip too.

So for me, I don't see myself any more of danger than someone who has just passed a test. Just doing a test doesn't stop anyone from doing things wrong whether that's just a car/van/towing/riding a bike. However it can't be great for overall standards as plenty of people without any trailer experience at all can just hitch anything up and get on with it. Plus as mentioned before, if you're destined to drive like a knob, you'll do it anyway. I do feel sorry for all the trailer training business that will have less people needing to use them.

On the subject of trailer and HGV accidents I'd love to know how many of them are down to evasive actions (even if futile) trying to avoid an idiot that's dived into their braking zone or cut them up. I'm sure many are caused by themselves but sure several are caused by others.

On the HGV side of it, I've always fancied doing my C+E. But would be looking at ~3.5-4K based on a mate's training and test costs to do that. Not something that I can stump up if it's only for occasional use. The rule changes in that instance for me save a huge chunk of cash. Whilst I'm sure the rigid training/test are certainly valuable experience, at least they're starting with the harder option. I'm sure some of the training places round here use a wagon and drag for the C+E test anyway which isn't the same as a artic + trailer.

Sure there's something I've forgotten! 

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9 minutes ago, Gazzar said:

Not convinced that a rigid is easier to drive than an articulated rig. 

A long rigid is an uter pain in the bottom. An Artic is much easier and a wagon and drag is a thing of lovliness. It's not the vehicles though, it's the job. Some people are made to do it, and fair play to them. I only took mine so I could move equipment round from site to site...

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