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Towing the line.

Richard Martin gives you the lowdown on transporting your horses - and the law

DID you know the law regarding new drivers changed in 1997?

That's nearly seven years ago and many people are towing illegally.

The 1997 New Drivers Act introduced the six points rule, whereby a new driver will lose their licence if more than six points are acquired in the first two years.

It also restricted the type of vehicles new drivers are permitted to drive.

Back in the good old days, passing the car test opened up our lives, giving us independence and freedom.

We were allowed to tow heavy trailers without further tests.

The day after passing my test in a Mini at 17, I could jump straight into a 7.5-ton lorry unaccompanied.

I could attach a two-ton horse trailer, complete with two horses, and drive off into the sunset. Could I handle them? No. Could I reverse them? No. Did I have any idea what I was doing? No. Was I legally entitled to drive them? Yes. Crazy? I think so.

This situation was addressed by the new act.

In order to work out whether we can drive the vehicle/trailer combination, we need to know three weights: the maximum gross weight of the trailer; the maximum gross weight of the towing vehicle; and the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

These should all be shown on plates on the trailer and vehicle.

The gross weight is referred to, in official terms, as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) ( which means the maximum potential weight the trailer or vehicle can carry, including its own weight and cargo, regardless of how much it actually weighs at any given time.

Now, a new driver will only get category B and B1 licence, allowing them to drive a vehicle up to 3500Kg plus a trailer with a MAM of 750Kg.

Simple! So let's complicate it slightly by adding that a heavier trailer may be towed provided the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle and the combined weights do not exceed 3500Kg.

Don't forget, this does not only apply to young drivers, it is anyone who passed their test after 1 January 1997. Also, if anyone is driving without the correct licence entitlement, they may not be insured either!

Just consider how much you may have invested on the car, trailer and pony ( not to mention the emotional commitment.

Is it worth taking the risk? You may not think so when you face the fine.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 9, 2004
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