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Could the B+E test be scrapped?


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https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/20/caravan-towing-tests-face-axe-ministers-race-tackle-lorry-driver/amp/

 

>Tests for car drivers who want to tow a heavy caravan could be scrapped to free up examiners for truckers as ministers race to combat the UK's HGV crisis. ... Most cars and trailers come in below this weight, but the licence is likely to apply for drivers of heavy SUVs who want to tow a horsebox or caravan.

 

Obviously this is just rumour and speculation at this stage but could be very good news for those of us, like me, who have not yet got a B+E license.

 

I personally think it would be much better served as a competency based training scheme, possibly run by some of the established industry bodies rather than a full HGV style driving test.

 

Would, I suspect, be very good news for UK caravan manufacturers.

Edited by ChertseyMike
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However with the way the dvla are going on I guess it could be some time until driving licences could be updated.

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It has always been a bone of contention, whilst the weight of a car and caravan can affect handling (as per the other topic), manoeuvring/reversing a a  23' long x 7' 6" wide x 8' 6" tall caravan using the towcar is the same regardless of whether it is 1500kg or 1501kg which could be the difference between a B and a BE licence, it is the same bulky box regardless of its mass.

Jaguar E-Pace 180D HSE R Dynamic - 2008 Swift Conqueror 540

 

"Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan Talk"

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10 minutes ago, Steven said:

It has always been a bone of contention, whilst the weight of a car and caravan can affect handling (as per the other topic), manoeuvring/reversing a a  23' long x 7' 6" wide x 8' 6" tall caravan using the towcar is the same regardless of whether it is 1500kg or 1501kg which could be the difference between a B and a BE licence, it is the same bulky box regardless of its mass.

Worse than that, to stay legal on a B licence while towing a decent sized caravan means using a less capable vehicle than you might otherwise like. For example when we looked at the Seat Ateca I noticed that the 1.5tsi would allow someone to tow 1570kg on a B licence while towing with the 2.0tdi would limit them to 1370kg MTPLM. Of course both these would be playing fast and loose with the 85% recommendation given their respective kerb weights but would be completely legal.

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It would be interesting to know what the pass/fail rate of the B&E test is. IF it gets debated by “The Powers” I suppose that would be one of the items discussed.

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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5 hours ago, Steven said:

It has always been a bone of contention, whilst the weight of a car and caravan can affect handling (as per the other topic), manoeuvring/reversing a a  23' long x 7' 6" wide x 8' 6" tall caravan using the towcar is the same regardless of whether it is 1500kg or 1501kg which could be the difference between a B and a BE licence, it is the same bulky box regardless of its mass.

And likewise what is the difference between being able to drive a motorhome weighing 3500kgs and one at 3650kgs, especially when they could be identical motorhomes except one has had a perfectly legal weight upgrade. I suppose the trouble is that those of us that enjoy this hobby be it caravanners or motorhomers form such a small minority of motorist that we don't have much influence?  They only seem to be changing it now  because people wanting to go up a licence grade are considered a nuisance!!!

 

David

David - Milton Keynes

Bailey Alliance 66-2 Motorhome for holidays and a Kia Venga for home.

 

Caravan Travels

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3 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

It would be interesting to know what the pass/fail rate of the B&E test is.

Figures are on the Government website for the last few years.   For the past year there were (roughly) 13K test carried out with around 9K of them getting a pass.

Edited by Jaydug

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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I know, never say never, but I would be very surprised if the government reduced the licensing requirements to tow. I have no idea how much it would have cost to implement the current system, I assume many millions, and it appears fit for purpose.

 

Just my thoughts.

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There was a time when passing a simple car test, would entitle the person to jump straight into a 7500kg truck, and even tow a small trailer behind. When I passed my car test, my father believed that was sufficient to pass me his car keys and tell me to go for my first solo drive, and I was towing a small trailer very soon after. That was back in the 1970s and I have been towing assorted trailers and caravans ever since. Currently we have an American RV, behind which we tow a small car on a trailer, all perfectly legally. My wife was in a similar situation and has not only towed (and competently reversed) our caravans, but also drove the local school bus for many years before ill health required her to surrender her licence.

I am not saying that appropriate instruction for towing a caravan is not a good idea, but a test (much of which relates to loading and lashing) I believe is not necessary to tow a caravan. More important is correct loading with the ability to manoeuvre the outfit safely and confidently (both forward and in reverse) together with an understanding of the required stopping distance regardless of the absolute weight.

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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Licence issues aside, I am more and more convinced that some type of “caravan towing training “ should be required before being allowed to tow a caravan. 
My thinking is that most “newbies “ have either non, or limited knowledge of license restrictions, outfit matching, weights, hitching up, correct loading, etc etc. 
We need to keep in mind that a caravan is very much a unique type of trailer, and as such needs some unique knowledge 
 

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18 minutes ago, Lost in the wilderness said:

Licence issues aside, I am more and more convinced that some type of “caravan towing training “ should be required before being allowed to tow a caravan. 
We need to keep in mind that a caravan is very much a unique type of trailer, and as such needs some unique knowledge 

I totally agree that appropriate training is always good but a B+E endorsement is a bit OTT for the average caravanner as the principles are the same regardless of the outfit weight.

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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5 minutes ago, Gordon said:

I totally agree that appropriate training is always good but a B+E endorsement is a bit OTT for the average caravanner as the principles are the same regardless of the outfit weight.

I think I agree with you, but I also think it’s silly to let anyone, with little or no knowledge, set off down the road with a 1000kg + box behind them. 

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Don't lose sight of the fact that the B+E legislation does not just apply to caravans, it applies to all relevant tow vehicle & trailer combinations.  You cannot single out just one small section of trailer towing drivers for special treatment or exemption. There are some significant weights associated with plant trailers, horse trailers and any number of miscellaneous others.....and a lot more of them in total than caravans! 

Edited by Legal Eagle
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17 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

Don't lose sight of the fact that the B+E legislation does not just apply to caravans, it applies to all relevant tow vehicle & trailer combinations.  You cannot single out just one small section of trailer towing drivers for special treatment or exemption. There are some significant weights associated with plant trailers, horse trailers and any number of miscellaneous others.....and a lot more of them in total than caravans! 


I agree, but how does it make any sense for someone to have lessons and take a test  towing a box trailer, it may weigh a couple of 1000 kilos, but is nothing like the dimensions of a caravan.

Jaguar E-Pace 180D HSE R Dynamic - 2008 Swift Conqueror 540

 

"Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan Talk"

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And towing a loaded horse box requires special consideration and smoothness not normally exercised by other type trailer towers.

 

Stay safe - Griff.  :ph34r:

Wheels at the front Green Oval Towing Machine

Wheels at the back Bessacarr 845

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11 minutes ago, Steven said:


I agree, but how does it make any sense for someone to have lessons and take a test  towing a box trailer, it may weigh a couple of 1000 kilos, but is nothing like the dimensions of a caravan.

As with all driving tests there is a standardisation of the equipment deemed as suitable. As the trailer test is not aimed at any particular trailer type a line has to be drawn. Just imagine what people would turn up with if there weren't rules!

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25 minutes ago, Steven said:

I agree, but how does it make any sense for someone to have lessons and take a test  towing a box trailer, it may weigh a couple of 1000 kilos, but is nothing like the dimensions of a caravan.

It doesn't make sense but many government decisions make little sense. An example being a 20mph limit on side streets, and that's probably good idea generally but when the same limit is than applied to major through routes in, sometimes on sections of dual carriage way, then somehow it just doesn't work! Similarly, taking speed limits as an example, we have roads close to us where there are literally 200yards of raised speed limit, before returning to a slower limit - what's that all about? 

I have towed horse boxes, and I can guarantee that it is totally different from towing a caravan. While a horse box can have an improved rear view not requiring extension mirrors, the 'load' can move and cause the trailer to sway on a perfectly straight and level road. On the other hand, they are much less affected by cross winds or passing HGVs, than a long caravan body is. In general, the longer the trailer (caravan?) the easier it is to reverse, so again there is a difference.

11 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

As with all driving tests there is a standardisation of the equipment deemed as suitable. As the trailer test is not aimed at any particular trailer type a line has to be drawn. Just imagine what people would turn up with if there weren't rules!

I'm not disagreeing that there should be rules, my point is that in my opinion, the line has not necessarily been drawn in the most appropriate or logical place. That said, to remain legal we have no choice but to obey, whether we agree or not.

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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Local authorities, not the Govt., set local speed limits such as 20mph zones and those limits that end up creating 200 yard islands of a higher speed limit between two low limits. Primary legislation defines maximum limits for certain road types and vehicle types and empowers local authorities to impose lower road limits on 'local' roads.

Regarding B+E, I think drawing the line at 3,500kg tow vehicle & trailer combined MAM is a very logical place when you consider the huge range of combination types it encompasses. Caravans are just a minority trailer type and there is no justification for special treatment. Every trailer type will have it's own handling idiosyncrasies and it us impossible to cater for them all separately. 

Edited by Legal Eagle
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30 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

Regarding B+E, I think drawing the line at 3,500kg tow vehicle & trailer combined MAM is a very logical place when you consider the huge range of combination types it encompasses. Caravans are just a minority trailer type and there is no justification for special treatment. Every trailer type will have it's own handling idiosyncrasies and it us impossible to cater for them all separately. 

Maybe, given that there are several requirements for towing trailers (including caravans), that are common to all types (think MTPLM, nose weight, break-away Etc), the sensible option would have been to restrict ALL drivers from towing anything over 750KG, unless the +E passed. And as part of the training, a leaflet is provided that informs the candidate of where to find specific information for the types of trailer they intend to tow.

Tin hat at the ready.

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22 minutes ago, Lost in the wilderness said:

Maybe, given that there are several requirements for towing trailers (including caravans), that are common to all types (think MTPLM, nose weight, break-away Etc), the sensible option would have been to restrict ALL drivers from towing anything over 750KG, unless the +E passed. And as part of the training, a leaflet is provided that informs the candidate of where to find specific information for the types of trailer they intend to tow.

Tin hat at the ready.

You may have a point. In fact, why impose a weight threshold at all? Make the +E a requirement to tow, full stop. I am sure many of us have seen the dire antics of the driver towing a small garden rubbish trailer manoeuvring it at the local recycling centre or the dope with a rope towing his broken down mate at normal speed with only 10 feet between them!

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11 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

Make the +E a requirement to tow, full stop.

 

I think this is a better idea than the current limits. It avoids all of the mental gymnastics and probably makes it a lot easier to enforce and educate people about the requirements.

 

However, I still think the test itself is unnecessary. The training could be a lot more effective if it was specifically tailored to the type of vehicle you are wanting to tow. Somewhere between the caravan club type training days and the motorcycle CBT is where I think the ideal would be.

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I had towed trailers for a few years when we got our caravan, I still went on a towing course, I think I probably learned more because I knew I didn't have to take a test after it, I did the course in my own car with my own caravan, which were under 3500kg

 I think a course run by a training company would be a better idea for all towing than a licence upgrade

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I have a pal who’s business is doing B+E training, and mini bus training. He has had an email from DVSA pretty much on the lines of what has already been stated, the total scrapping of the B+E test and reverting back to the “old” system where a car licence was good up to 7500kg gross weight,  because with that you can drive up to 8250 if a (750kg) trailer is attached. But currently to drive any goods vehicle over 7500kg you need to take a specific HGV test!! 

 

In the interim the uncouple and re-couple exercise is, apparently going to be removed from the test (it has no bearing on whether a driver can handle a car and trailer in the road.  In addition B+E test appointments are being scaled right back even more to fit in more HGV tests in an attempt to ease the current chronic shortage of HGV drivers.

 

 Whilst on that subject there is also a very strong “recommendation” being made to allow drivers to go straight from a car to and artic without having to do a rigid HGV test first. Just like it was when I did mine many years ago. 

 

The wait for a B+E test near me is currently the end of September/beginning of October, so if those tests are going be scaled back the waiting time is only going to increase further! 

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

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Wow, if they did that I'd be surprised (and delighted). Not that I'm against taking additional training (I very much enjoyed learning to ride a motorcycle a few years ago) but if you want to tow a caravan but think that in a few years time you may prefer a larger motorhome (at least one with a reasonable payload) and possibly towing a car on a trailer. You'd potentially be looking at 3 separate tests (B+E, C1, C1+E) for those outfits.

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