DVSA launches accreditation for trailer towing training

New scheme addresses employers’ health and safety obligations after trailer towing tests were scrapped for drivers

Towing hitch

The decision by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to scrap the trailer towing driving test late last year has forced the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) to introduce a new towing accreditation scheme.

The decision to drop tests for drivers wanting to tow trailers up to 3,500kgs flew in the face of advice from within the DVSA, motoring organisations and safety bodies, but it went ahead anyway in an effort to free up capacity for more HGV driving tests. Since the law changed, anyone with a full driving licence is legally entitled to tow a trailer up to 3,500kgs, whether trained or not. That means any driver can tow a large caravan or horse trailer, or a trailer for work.

However, an unplanned consequence of cancelling the towing test is that employers with staff who are required to tow trailers for work, now have no means of meeting HSE obligations to show their drivers are properly trained.

As the DVSA no longer has the power to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ candidates, they will instead accredit training organisations via the National Council for Accredited Trailer Training. Full details of the scheme have yet to be announced, but it is believed that accredited trainers will be able to issue certificates to show that candidates have participated in towing training. It’s not yet clear whether trainers will be allowed to fail candidates who don’t measure up, because the newly revised licence laws mean everyone has the right to hitch up a trailer - whether competent or not.

A DVSA spokesperson said: “The government is committed to encouraging drivers to get professional training before towing for leisure or business.

“The trailer training accreditation scheme aims to ensure drivers who want to tow a trailer for leisure or business have the skills, knowledge and competencies to tow safely. And for those towing a trailer in connection with their work, to help ensure an employer’s corporate responsibilities to make sure safe working practices are met.”

The DVSA is holding webinars for trailer training providers this week and next, designed to provide an update on the accreditation scheme, and to  explain the role of the National Council for Accredited Trailer Training.

Planning to tow? Check out our guide...

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