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Toads in Europe post Brexit


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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, Allan Guest said:

A few years ago I was given a MMM magazine which had what I thought, as a caravaner, not MHer, a good explanation.

It said it was simply a different approach to the law-in the UK as no law said you cannot, then you can but in Europe, if no law says you can, then you can’t!

 

 

The main reason why A-frames are tolerated in the UK is because trailers (and the DVSA has agreed that car/A-frame combinations should be treated as trailers) aren't registered in their own right with their own number plate, etc. (which would call for an administrative solution to the problem as, for a start, the car's number plate would have to be replaced when it is towed) and the technical issue that Towtug highlighted in his post is simply ignored, probably simply to let sleeping dogs lie unless someone raises it in court.

Edited by Lutz
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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Readingblue said:

He turned up to us in UK which started the discussion as they spend their winters touring Spain.

 

I get the legal / illegal bit from the other posts.

 

All I am saying he (and he claims many others) had no problems at all around the EU and Spain including being stopped.

 

He told me and he's told the Spanish guardia he is NOT towing a car. It's for all intent and purposes a trailer as it apparently has all the safety devices a trailer would.

 

But then, he also got the type of personality to pull that off. I'd probably get me a fine...

He may well think of it as a trailer , but it is not a Type approved trailer. As it has been a mandatory requirement across Europe to only permit Type approved trailers (IE EWVTA, NSSTA or IVA) since 2012 .  The devices supplied by some drawbar manufacturers to actuate the brakes for example may well carry an approval (ece reg 13) and the drawbar and Inertia device (ECE Reg 55)  , but the car will not be approved as a trailer and there will be no Certificate of Conformity.

What happens is that each sovereign state chooses to interpret their use in their own way and either make a derogation or simply ignore them, in line with their IVA policy.   Where this happens it only applies in the country of registration. So where you get away with it in your own country you can only assume that you will in another.

 

This is the current DVSA advice, you will notice in now only refers to C and U regs and not EU  or ECE directives 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-frames-and-dollies/a-frames-and-dollies#:~:text=frames-and-dollies-,What is an A-frame%3F,vehicle (eg a motorhome).

Edited by Towtug
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The above link takes you to a Gov website that should be read, very carefully indeed by anyone contemplating using any form of A frame. It is vital to read exactly what it says and not what you think (or want) it to say.

 

The whole A frame subject is fairly complex (having been a Motorhome owner and a Traffic cop I looked into it very carefully many years ago. And went for the trailer option) and covers a lot of different areas, such as brakes having to work on all the wheels and provide the necessary minimum braking force, so if the car has servo brakes, as most now do, then there must be a means to keep that servo energised (it’s done by the engine running normally, so another means will be required) Then there is a requirement for the brakes to automatically not function when being reversed (like your caravans do/or don’t!) and a requirement for it to be capable of being reversed a “reasonable distance” which very difficult due to the steering castor angle causing the steering wheels to go onto full lock if not dead straight when backing up. The list goes on.

 

Just imagine trying to have that sort of technical discussion at the roadside with an officious Spanish police officer, In Spanish :mellow:

 

The only 100% way of being sure you are totally legal is to use a trailer. That’s a great shame because A frames are a brilliant concept, but their legal status is, to say the least, somewhat dubious and very easy to MISinterpret. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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18 hours ago, Lutz said:

The main reason why A-frames are tolerated in the UK is because trailers (and the DVSA has agreed that car/A-frame combinations should be treated as trailers) aren't registered in their own right with their own number plate, etc. (which would call for an administrative solution to the problem as, for a start, the car's number plate would have to be replaced when it is towed) and the technical issue that Towtug highlighted in his post is simply ignored, probably simply to let sleeping dogs lie unless someone raises it in court.

You are correct in that trailers are not required to be registered with their own number, and as you say, when a car is being towed on an A-frame (as a trailer) then the towing vehicle's registration number has to be displayed on the car rear, as with any other trailer/caravan/horsebox etc.

 

This in itself is hardly a major problem BUT the requirement for all brakes to work efficiently, the steering lock to be released, the towed car lighting circuits modified to operate in synch with the towing vehicle or fit a trailer board, together with the need for two red triangular reflectors on the rear of the car (that must be removed when driven solo) and depending upon the size of the car, amber side reflectors fitted when on tow but removed when solo, all add the the rules that have to be complied with in order not to be specifically illegal.

 

It is far simpler to in my opinion to put the car on a trailer, where it is just treated as a "load" and so can be carried without any modification and is immediately ready for use solo once onsite. Our "toad" is so light that I can push it onto the trailer by hand, and strap it down in a couple of minutes, without a need to modify anything. There is only one minor drawback, and that is the question of trailer storage on some sites with restricted space but that has already been pointed out.

Finally by using a dedicated trailer, I can in theory travel through any country outside of the UK and comply with the local traffic rules.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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  • 1 month later...
On 19/05/2021 at 10:20, Gordon said:

An appropriate trailer is also not overly expensive, and would have been perfectly legal in Spain! This kind of total disregard for the law is what gets the rest of us a bad name. Clearly the fines are not high enough to deter this individual, so maybe to get his attention the car should have been impounded or the A-frame confiscated.

I’ve had a conversation (on-line) with one gentleman who was stopped in Spain.  He was ordered to separate the two but, because his disabled wife couldn’t drive the car, they escorted him to the nearest service station.  
He then had to go and buy a car transporter trailer before continuing, and was fined to boot!  Not all of the Guardiã Civil are a pushover!

 

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The law in Spain is very clear.

 

It is illegal to tow any car, broken down or otherwise. They must be carried on a trailer (or the back of a breakdown vehicle) so that all of its wheels are off the ground. I have heard anecdotal evidence that the French are starting to clamp down on A frames as well. 

I have no idea exactly what the law is in France concerning A frames.

 

When I had a MH I towed a Smart car all over Europe, but it was on a purpose built Smart car trailer. No issues at all anywhere. Took probably less time to load and unload it than it would take to fit and remove an A frame. 

A major obstacle to a car and trailer behind a MH is that many MH’s have a very low permitted weight for a trailer (some as low as 750kg). With my set up I was only about 25kg inside of the max trailer weight (and the trailer was very light) so anything much bigger than a Smartie (Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo etc) would have been a no-no anyway. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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4 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

The law in Spain is very clear.

It is illegal to tow any car, broken down or otherwise. They must be carried on a trailer (or the back of a breakdown vehicle) so that all of its wheels are off the ground. I have heard anecdotal evidence that the French are starting to clamp down on A frames as well. 

:goodpost:

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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On 20/05/2021 at 19:10, Lutz said:

 

A-frames aren't specifically illegal on the Continent. In fact, there are no provisions in any legislation anywhere allowing or prohibiting them. A car with an A-frame attached would therefore be treated just like a trailer, requiring whole vehicle type approval for the A-frame/car combination, but that is a process which none of the A-frame manufacturers have gone through. They are therefore illegal because they are not type approved. Besides any provisions for attaching the A-frame to the car amount to a technical modification to the car which would also affect the type approval of the car itself.

Because a car has a wheel at each corner and the coupler has no down force, the vehicle effectively becomes a drawbar Steering axle trailer.

A drawbar trailer cannot be Type approved with inertia brakes , which means it would need to be equipped with continuous brakes.  IE Air brakes.  For the usual classes of tow vehicle this is not a practical solution. A tow vehicle equipped this way would need to be type approved in it's own right. As I've mentioned numerous times before, this is before fitting and removing Triangular reflectors,  removing or blinding non triangular reflectors, fitting / removing side reflectors , making sure the front marker lights are the correct distance from the edge , fitting front reflectors etc etc.  

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52 minutes ago, Towtug said:

Because a car has a wheel at each corner and the coupler has no down force, the vehicle effectively becomes a drawbar Steering axle trailer.

A drawbar trailer cannot be Type approved with inertia brakes , which means it would need to be equipped with continuous brakes.  IE Air brakes.  For the usual classes of tow vehicle this is not a practical solution. A tow vehicle equipped this way would need to be type approved in it's own right. As I've mentioned numerous times before, this is before fitting and removing Triangular reflectors,  removing or blinding non triangular reflectors, fitting / removing side reflectors , making sure the front marker lights are the correct distance from the edge , fitting front reflectors etc etc.  

:goodpost:

 

“None so blind as those who will not see” springs to mind doesn’t it? 

 

 

Lutz

Correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t France work on “Napoleonic Law”? 

 

i.e. Everything is illegal unless the  law says it is legal?  Unlike the U.K. where everything is legal initial the law says it isn’t. 

 

 

Hey Gordon, where did your post with the picture of your car and trailer go?? 

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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On 23/05/2021 at 09:56, Readingblue said:

 

He says a trailer is a big problem in Spain cos the pitches are so small and theres no where to put them and they are hard for an old guy to manoeuvre.

I saw a guy turn up in Spain with a Smart car on a trailer, after unloading the car he hitched the trailer to a tow ball on the front of the Smart car and pushed the trailer away to the storage area.

 

When he returned the tow ball was not on the car.

 

Ian

2018 Range Rover Sport AB,  2015 Buccaneer Cruiser.

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49 minutes ago, IanV8 said:

I saw a guy turn up in Spain with a Smart car on a trailer, after unloading the car he hitched the trailer to a tow ball on the front of the Smart car and pushed the trailer away to the storage area.

 

When he returned the tow ball was not on the car.

 

Ian

 

You have to ask why. My Smart car trailer was really lightweight and very easy to move around single handed. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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2 hours ago, IanV8 said:

I saw a guy turn up in Spain with a Smart car on a trailer, after unloading the car he hitched the trailer to a tow ball on the front of the Smart car and pushed the trailer away to the storage area.

We found it more useful to have the towball on the rear, as other small trailers can then also be towed by the car ;)

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Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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1 hour ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

You have to ask why. My Smart car trailer was really lightweight and very easy to move around single handed. 

He was elderly and the storage facility was about 200 metres away, there were a few MHs who went into the storage area to unload or load their trailers.

 

Ian

2018 Range Rover Sport AB,  2015 Buccaneer Cruiser.

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22 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

:goodpost:

 

“None so blind as those who will not see” springs to mind doesn’t it? 

 

 

Lutz

Correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t France work on “Napoleonic Law”? 

 

i.e. Everything is illegal unless the  law says it is legal?  Unlike the U.K. where everything is legal initial the law says it isn’t. 

 

 

Yes, that's about it in a nutshell.

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