Towing and the Law

Towing and the Law

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If you have a specific question for which you need an answer this may be the place to find it.

  • Currently there is no legal requirement for trailers to have a roadworthiness test. However all trailers on the road must comply with certain technical requirements. Trailers are broken down into subcategories depending on the design gross vehicle weight (DGVW).

    O1 trailers have a DGVW not exceeding 750kg.
    O2 trailers have a DGVW exceeding 750kg and not exceeding 3500kg.

    O1 Trailers

    If you have an ordinary Category B licence, you may:

    Tow a trailer of up to 750kg DGVW, with a vehicle with a DGVW not exceeding 3500kg and seating for up to 8 passengers (apart from the driver).

    Tow a trailer over 750kg DGVW, with a vehicle with a DGVW not exceeding 3500kg provided the combination weight does not exceed 3500kg.

    O1 trailers are not obliged to have brakes fitted unless they have a DGVW which is more than half the DGVW of the towing vehicle to which they are attached.

    If the trailer’s DGVW is more than half the DGVW of the towing vehicle, then the trailer must be fitted with a service brake, a parking brake and a device capable of automatically stopping the trailer if it becomes detached while in motion—i.e., a breakaway cable. As an alternative to a breakaway cable, a secondary coupling may be fitted.

    O2 Trailers

    If you have an ordinary Category B licence, you may:

    Tow an O2 trailer, provided that the total DGVW of the combination does not exceed a total of 3500kg.

    If you have a Category BE licence, you may:

    Tow an O2 trailer, with a vehicle with a DGVW of up to 3500kg and seating for up to 8 passengers (apart from the driver), provided that the DGVW of the trailer does not exceed the manufacturer’s rated towing capacity for the towing vehicle.

    All O2 trailers must have brakes fitted. They must also be fitted with a service brake, a parking brake and a device capable of automatically stopping the trailer if it becomes detached while in motion—i.e., a breakaway cable. As an alternative to a breakaway cable, a secondary coupling may be fitted.

    If the trailer has more than one axle and does not have an automatic breakaway device that activates its brakes should it become detached from the towing vehicle while in motion, then it must be fitted with brakes and a secondary coupling consisting of a chain or wire rope.

    Changes from June 1st 2011

    O2 trailers manufactured from June 1st 2011 onwards must have brakes on all wheels and the brakes fitted must disengage automatically to allow the trailer to be reversed with minimum drag and must re-engage automatically in the forward direction.

    O2 trailers with a DGVW exceeding 1500kg must be fitted with breakaway cable capable of automatically stopping the trailer if it becomes detached while in motion; however those with a DGVW not exceeding 1500kg may be fitted with secondary coupling as an alternative.

  • You can find the weight of your Ifor Williams trailer under the specification section of the new trailers on this website. We recommend contacting your local vehicle distributor to find the weight of your towing vehicle.

  • 1. First of all ensure the ball on your towing vehicle is well greased.
    2. Position the ball of your vehicle under the coupling head of your trailer.
    3. Turn the jockey wheel handle anti-clockwise to lower the coupling head close to the towing vehicle ball.
    4. Pull back the catch or knuckle on the coupling head to open
    5. Continue to lower the coupling head onto the ball till it engages and is connected. (To check it is correctly connected look under the coupling head to ensure the ball is fully enclosed in the coupling head and the tongue of the coupling head is tight to the bottom of the ball.
    6. Ensure to turn the key in the lock at the top of the coupling head if a lock is fitted. Giving you extra peace of mind against theft.
    7. Continue to turn the jockey wheel handle anti-clockwise till the bottom part of the jockey wheel is retracted fully and is tight to turn. Engage the R Pin at the top of the jockey wheel to stop the jockey wheel from opening.
    8. Turn the locking handle holding the jockey wheel anti-clockwise and lift the jockey wheel up. Turn the wheel around to face the trailer clear of the underside of the coupling itself. Lift the jockey wheel high enough to ensure the wheel is above the bottom of the drawbar and tucked in beside the drawbar itself. Then tighten the locking handle clock-wise and ensure it is good and tight. This will always ensure the jockey wheel is high enough and it is safe from getting damage by road ramps.
    9. Securely attach the safety cable to your towing vehicle . If putting around your ball,ensure it is pull tight.
    10. Connect your lights by plugging in the black plug on your trailer into the socket of your towing vehicle. Ensure the little slot in the plug is inline with your socket or it will not plug in correctly.
    11. Get a second person to check all your lights are working before you depart.
    12. Ensure all fasteners for doors, ramps ,dropsides etc are closed properly and are tight.
    13. Ensure all loads are loaded properly and are tightened down safely before departure.
    14. Periodically check your load and animals during your journey.

  • The answer is yes provided the unladen weight (Actual weight of the trailer) and the weight of the load does not exceed 1500Kg.

    There is no legal requirement to downgrade your plate to 1500Kg.

    Drivers do not need a trailer license to pull a trailer up to 750Kg Gross Capacity (B Licence). However drivers need an (B + E Trailer License) to pull a trailer over 750kg up to 3500Kg Gross.

  • If you sat your driving test after the 1st Janurary 1997/1989 you will not automatically have a B + E license to pull a trailer up to 3500Kg Gross capacity. However with your B license you can pull a trailer up to 750Kg Gross Capacity. It is a requirement to set a separate test for pulling a trailer to get an E + B license to pull a trailer up to 3500Kg Gross. For more infomation on licensing please click here.

  • If you have never towed a trailer before it is important to know that you will need to modify your driving behaviour while pulling a trailer.
    • The overall length of your towing vehicle and trailer will be longer and therefore you need to widen your turns to avoid hitting the kerb as the trailer will always turn tighter than the towing vehicle.
    • When you are reversing a trailer it is important to remember to turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction that you want the trailer to turn.
    • It is very important to remember to gradually turn your steering wheel as there is a delay between the time you turn your steering wheel and when the trailer will start to turn.
    • A common mistake is to overturn your steering wheel causing the trailer to over-lock which is very difficult to correct without having to drive forward and start again. Slow short gradual turns to start are best until you can see the direction and pace the trailer is turning for you.
    • When you are towing a trailer, whether it has brakes are not, you have more weight behind therefore your stopping distance will be greater. It is very important to remember to leave more time for braking so always keep a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
    • Never exceed the speed limit for pulling a trailer which is 80kph.


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