As Easter approaches, it is tradition for many families to hitch up their caravans and head out for the long weekend!  But wait, did you know that in order to tow a caravan you need an EB licence code?

Many drivers are unaware that an ordinary driver’s licence (code B) only allows them to tow a trailer with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) less than 750kg. For anything larger, such as a caravan, a code EB is required. Licence codes EC1 and EC also allow for towing GVM in excess of 750kg.  The indicator that one may tow more than 750kg is the ‘E’ in the licence code – EB, EC and EC1. This legislation has been around for some years already, but many are still unaware of this requirement. Some people even believe that it’s much easier to pass EC1 and EC driving tests!

So, if you are planning your next camping trip, it is important to compare your licence code with what you are towing.  Failure to comply can lead to repudiation of your insurance claim for the vehicle, caravan and 3rd party liability.  This might lead to large financial losses and court cases etc.  Something as simple as not adhering to the law can have devastating consequences.

To tow legally, clients should consider the following factors: the towing and load specifications of the towing vehicle, the tow bar rating and the specifications of the trailer or caravan. The following terminology is used in calculating towing equation:

Tare: The ‘dry weight’ of the vehicle – the mass of the vehicle without passengers, fuel or luggage, but including standard fittings.
Payload: the maximum mass the vehicle may carry, including passengers, fuel and luggage.
Gross vehicle mass (GVM): the sum of Tare and Payload.
Gross combination mass (GCM): the sum of the gross vehicle mass of the towing vehicle and maximum towing capacity as stated by the manufacturer.
Manufacturer’s maximum towing capacity: the maximum towing capacity specified by manufacturer in kilograms. A distinction is drawn between self-braked trailers/caravans and those without own brakes.
Tow bar static load and tow bar maximum drawing capacity: as specified by the manufacturer.

What to know about trailer and caravan weight:

  1. If the trailer/caravan exceeds 750kg and has its own braking system, the weight of the vehicle must be equal to or more than the weight of the trailer/caravan.
  2. For trailers up to 750kg, the Tare of the vehicle must be double that of the trailer. In other words, should a trailer weigh 750kg, the vehicle must weigh at least 1 500kg. Please note that most smaller vehicles have a Tare of less than 1 500kg.
  3. Remember: the fitment of extras to a vehicle or trailer/caravan will affect the weight and will necessitate that the Tare mass of the vehicle be recalculated.

To conclude, be sure to obtain the appropriate licence before towing a caravan, or you may end up paying a lot more for your camping trip than planned!