Towing and trailers
If you want to drive a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV) with a trailer, you’ll need a trailer entitlement (+E) on your driving licence. To add this, you’ll need to hold the full entitlement for the vehicle before you take the trailer test.
For more information about adding extra entitlements to your driving licence, see GOV.UK.
Remember to check the vehicle’s insurance policy because not all policies cover towing a trailer. You should also check the vehicle handbook: most manufacturers make recommendations about the maximum size of trailer that the vehicle can safely tow and how they should be attached. Make sure you follow these recommendations.
Not all rescue services will include recovering a trailer so make sure you check this before you ask for assistance.
Driving with a trailer
Towing a trailer may increase the number of blind spots around the vehicle, which you must be aware of when you’re driving and manoeuvring. You may be able to fit wide-angle mirrors to reduce the blind spots.
If you’re towing a trailer on a motorway, the speed limit is 60 mph (96 kph). All other speed limits are the same as for ordinary PCVs.
If there are three or more lanes on a motorway, you must not drive a vehicle towing a trailer in the right-hand lane.
Towing a trailer will change the way a vehicle handles. You’ll need to
- allow more time for braking
- give yourself three times the normal distance and time to overtake safely
- allow for the extra vehicle length, particularly when turning or emerging at junctions – you might need to take a different position on the road to give you enough space to turn.
If you use your brakes too heavily, eg when going downhill, your vehicle may suffer brake fade – a loss of braking power caused by the brakes getting too hot. To help avoid brake fade
- change to a lower gear
- use engine braking to slow the vehicle
- do not allow the vehicle to coast.
‘Snaking’ is when the trailer begins to swerve from side to side while you’re driving. If this happens,
- ease off the accelerator slowly
- reduce your speed gradually until the snaking stops.
Reversing with a trailer takes particular care because the trailer can move in a different direction to the one you’d expect.
Remember to check the height and width of the trailer and to bear these in mind when you’re planning your route: look out for any restrictions.
Coupling and uncoupling a trailer
If you’ve towing a trailer with your passenger-carrying vehicle, you’ll need to know how to couple and uncouple the trailer safely.
- The trailer brake should be on so it cannot move independently.
- Reverse slowly up to the trailer then make sure the vehicle parking brake is applied.
- Check the coupling is at the correct height.
- Connect the tow-hitch, the break-away cable and the electric lines.
- Connect the air lines if fitted and turn on the taps.
- Raise the jockey wheel or prop stand.
- Release the trailer parking brake.
Before uncoupling a trailer, make sure your vehicle is parked on level ground and in a place where it’s safe to uncouple – for example, away from pedestrians or passing traffic – and where the ground is clear from obstructions.
- Make sure the brakes are applied on the trailer and the vehicle before you begin uncoupling so neither part can move unexpectedly.
- Set the jockey wheel or prop stand so the trailer is supported.
- Turn off any taps and disconnect the air lines (if fitted) then stow the lines safely so they cannot become tangled or damaged.
- Disconnect the electric line and stow it safely.
- Release the break-away cable connection.
- Release the trailer coupling.
- Drive the vehicle away slowly, checking the trailer as you move away.