Trailer hire – legal requirements and terms and conditions

Towing and the Law From The .Gov Website 

DRIVING LICENCE RULES AND WHAT YOU CAN DO 

The rules on what you can tow are different depending on when you passed your driving test. 

LICENCES HELD FROM 1 JANUARY 1997 

If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive either: 

  • a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kilograms (kg) Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (with a combined weight of up to 4,250kg in total) 
  • a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg 

For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test. 

LICENCES HELD BEFORE 1 JANUARY 1997 

If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. 

This is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road. 

You also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM. 

TOWING HEAVIER COMBINATIONS 

If you want to tow heavier combinations, you’ll have to first apply for provisional entitlement to the new C1+E entitlement. You’ll then have to pass the category C theory test and C1+E practical test. 

Once you’ve done this you can drive vehicles and trailers with a combined weight of up to 12 tonnes MAM. 

CAR TOWING WEIGHT AND WIDTH LIMITS 

Most cars have a maximum weight of what they can tow. It’s usually listed in the handbook or specification sheet. 

Alternatively, the vehicle’s GROSS TRAIN WEIGHT may be listed on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car. This is normally under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door. The gross train weight is the weight of the fully-loaded car plus fully-loaded trailer and must not be exceeded. 

If your VIN plate doesn’t list a train weight, you should not use your vehicle for towing. 

WIDTH AND LENGTH 

The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes (3,500 kilograms). 

The rules are different if you’re using a larger vehicle to tow a car e.g. motorhome towing a car 

TRAILERS, CARAVANS AND TOWING EQUIPMENT SAFETY STANDARD 

The equipment you use with your trailer or caravan must meet certain safety standards and used correctly. (You can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition). 

Carry out safety checks to make sure you’re using the trailer and equipment legally. 

TOWING BARS 

If you get a tow bar for your car, it needs to be ‘type approved’. This means it meets EU regulations and is designed for your car. 

A type-approved tow bar will have a label with an approval number and details of the vehicles it’s approved for. 

If your car was first used before 1 August 1998, your tow bar doesn’t need to be type-approved. 

TOWING MIRRORS 

You must have an adequate view of the road behind you. If your caravan or trailer is wider than the rear of the towing vehicle, you may need to fit suitable towing mirrors. 

If you tow without proper towing mirrors you can be: 

  • prosecuted by the police 
  • given 3 points on your licence 
  • fined up to £1,000 

TRAILER BRAKES 

Any trailer weighing over 750 kilograms must have a working brake system when it’s loaded. 

Some smaller trailers also have brakes, although these are optional. 

Any brakes on a trailer or caravan must be in good working order. 

You must have a breakaway cable on a braked trailer or a secondary coupling on an unbraked trailer in case the trailer becomes detached from your car. (You can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition). 

A-FRAMES AND DOLLIES 

If you attach an A-frame to a car in order to tow it with a larger vehicle, the car plus the A-frame counts as a trailer. 

If you use a dolly to tow a broken-down vehicle, the dolly counts as a trailer. 

In both cases, the usual safety regulations for trailers apply. 

NUMBER PLATES 

You must display the same number plate on your trailer as on your towing car. 

If you tow more than one trailer at a time, fix the number plate to the trailer at the back. 

Hire Terms and Conditions for Trailer Hire 

HIRERS 

The first time you hire, you will require your Driving Licence (must be a UK one and with your current address) and payment by Credit/Debit Card (name and address to match the driving licence). Any telephone pre bookings require a 50% deposit, the remainder must be paid with the same card at the point of collection by the same person who has made the booking i.e the hirer. Please note this deposit is non refundable. 

All hire trailer rates include VAT and contribution to our UK mainland insurance premium. Claims are subject to an excess which is equal to 10% of the replacement value of the trailer hired, with a minimum of 350.00 up to a maximum of £400.00. The trailer must be left in a locked compound overnight or locked on to the towing vehicle. Failure to do so will result in an increase of the insurance excess to 20% of the total cost of the trailer. All accidents, losses, thefts must be reported to the police and Barlow Trailers within 8 hours of incident. Hirer must return in person to Wilmond towing centre to report the accident, loss or theft and must have a crime reference number. It is the hirer’s responsibility to ensure that he/she has adequate recovery cover for example (e.g. AA, RAC) to recover the trailer in event of accident or breakdown. 

The trailer must not leave UK mainland without the written authority of Wilmond towing centre, foreign travel is subject to a different insurance rate. Please contact our office for a quotation. 

BOOKINGS 

1.TELEPHONE BOOKINGS 

Any pre bookings require a 50% deposit, the remainder must be paid with the same card at the point of collection by the same person who has made the booking i.e the hirer. Please note this deposit is non refundable. 

2.ONLINE BOOKINGS 

2 Bookings made are non refundable. 

CARE, USE AND CUSTODY OF THE TRAILER 

The hirer shall tow the trailer only while qualified to drive a motor car and whilst holding all necessary UK licenses and permits and shall at all times drive the said motor car when towing the trailer in a careful and skill full manner and in accordance with all legal requirements. 

The hirer shall not take the trailer outside UK Mainland without the written consent of the owner and shall keep the same at all times in his possession and custody and do not part with possession or custody to any other person. 

The hirer shall notify the owner of any change in the hirer’s address and upon request by the owner promptly inform the owner of the whereabouts of the trailer. 

ACCIDENTS 

The hirer shall report any accidents or damage involving the trailer to the owner within four hours of the occurrence of the accident and all to the police or other proper authority within the time prescribed by the law. The hirer shall supply such information, drawings and assistance in connection with the accident as the owner or his insurers may require. The hirer shall not without prior consent of the owner give instructions for any repair to the trailer or for the replacement of any parts thereof rendered necessary by the accident. 

EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY 

The owner shall not under any circumstances be liable to make any payments to the hirer in respect of or to indemnify to the hirer against any loss, injury or damage sustained by the hirer or by any third party as a result of the presence or use of the trailer or as a result of any defect therein and in taking delivery of the trailer the hirer shall be deemed to have satisfied himself that is it in all respects roadworthy and in proper and safe condition. 

GENERALLY 

In this agreement “the trailer” includes all replacements and renewals thereof all additions and accessories thereto whether made before or after the date of this agreement. No relaxation forbearance or indulgence by the owner in enforcing any of the terms and conditions of the agreement shall prejudice or affect the rights and powers of the owner hereunder nor shall any waiver of any subsequent or continuing breach. 

DEPARTING TRAILER CHECKLIST 

VERIFY that the trailer is adequate for the proposed use; That the trailer is compatible with the towing vehicle. 

CHECK the engagement of the coupling-safety features-wear limit indicators etc. The attachment of the Secondary Coupling / Breakaway cable; The attachment / function of the Electrical Connections, Lights etc. ;The stowage of the jockey-wheel anti-vibration / locking features; The stowage of any accessories (spare wheel, ramps etc);The provision of a number plate. 

ADVISE with regard to:- Use of the handbrake; Adequate Nose-weight; Adequate Load restraint; Adequate Tyre pressure; Adequate wheel fixing Torque’s; Adequate Marking / lighting of overhanging loads; Allowable towing speeds; Use of fast-lane on Motorways; Applicability of Tachograph, MAFF (etc) legislation; Trailer Insurance / Security. 

IMPORTANT 

It is essential that the goods hired be returned to the owner not later than the end of the period of hire. As stated on the rental agreement. 

Hire trailers must be collected and returned between the opening hours within the company information page. The hirer must contact us between these hours if this is not possible. There is a charge for late return. Trailers must be cleaned after-use otherwise a cleaning charge will be levied. You will be charged for any damage including punctures and blowouts. Hire charges will continue to accrue until the trailer is signed off-hire. 

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE HIRED GOODS/VEHICLES 

BE RETURNED BY LEAVING OUTSIDE THE CLOSED GATES. 

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