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Could the B+E test be scrapped?


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Company I used to work for used to put all company car drivers on a one day refresher course every year.  Interestingly middle aged drivers scored worse, followed by younger drivers with 55 plus drivers having the best scores.  Interestingly one of the instructors had a theory that older drivers had grown up with cars that needed some understanding of how things worked rather than “point and go” and expect things to work, especially true of brakes.

 

 

12 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

Things will never change until a driving licence is considered to be a privilege rather than as a right.

Agree completely with this.  One of my younger relatives has just past the test after 5 years and about a dozen attempts.  In reality he should never have a licence as he’s too easily distracted and can’t concentrate on what he’s doing but now he can now couple up a van and tow it.

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We have all heard of the saying "If it aint broke, why fix it?" Just what is it that many on this thread are trying to fix?

The Insurance industry has the best statistics to illustrate which groups are the greater risk. The insurers aren't concerned about this towing matter. Statistically, the greatest age group at risk are the youngest. I have never heard of any insurer asking questions about towing. There are some real menaces on the road, that's for sure, but they are available in all shapes and sizes.

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I suspect complaints about declining standards of driving have been going on since most vehicles where fueled by oats and hay.

 

Going back to the original B+E discussion. One easy get out for the government would be to allow all combinations of up to 4250kg on a B class license. It has some nice benefits: it allows a lot more medium sized SUV and largish caravan combinations; it simplifies the regulations (currently the 3500kg van + 750kg trailer is a weird exception); existing B+E holders would retain rights above and beyond what B class licence allows.

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26 minutes ago, ChertseyMike said:

I suspect complaints about declining standards of driving have been going on since most vehicles where fueled by oats and hay.

 

Going back to the original B+E discussion. One easy get out for the government would be to allow all combinations of up to 4250kg on a B class license. It has some nice benefits: it allows a lot more medium sized SUV and largish caravan combinations; it simplifies the regulations (currently the 3500kg van + 750kg trailer is a weird exception); existing B+E holders would retain rights above and beyond what B class licence allows.

 

That scenario is a very sensible compromise indeed between the two current licences.

It would widen things out a bit Caravan/horsebox etc wise but keep the weight of a single vehicle way below 7500kg. 

 

Gets my support! 

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

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I suspect the majority of BE tests are done by the likes of electricity contractors who tow a mini digger on a trailer behind a Transit so maybe 4250kgs wouldn’t really solve the actual problem of the number of people taking the test? From memory 4250kgs is the limit in Australia, could be wrong though!

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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14 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

My pal who does driver training if all descriptions was Chatting to someone in Morrisons, apparently they are asking if any of Morrisons employees want to train as an HGV driver, Morrisons will pay all the costs and then give them a job driving.

 

If you know anyone who wants to get an HGV licence it might be worth them approaching  Morrisons! I expect they will require a minimum period of work after training though.

 

Whilst it might be required it  could be difficult to implement and/or discourage applications. The contract would need to be very specific.  Most (all?)supermarket distribution centre to store deliveries are under contract to large transport companies  and Morrisons have  contract with DHL so are they involved?. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparently Morrisons employ their own drivers as well, hence the offer. I am only passing on what I have been told from a source I trust. 

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

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2 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

I suspect the majority of BE tests are done by the likes of electricity contractors who tow a mini digger on a trailer behind a Transit so maybe 4250kgs wouldn’t really solve the actual problem of the number of people taking the test? From memory 4250kgs is the limit in Australia, could be wrong though!

It would be really interesting to know the breakdown of B+E license holders and for what reason they acquired the license. Sadly I doubt any good stats exist for that.

 

If I had to guess at around half of them would be for recreational purposes (caravans, horses and boats). For a long time I bet most employers just favoured letting their older employees drive (or living in blissful ignorance of the law). Now the youngest you can be and have the old style license is in your early 40s there may be more employees begrudgingly paying for the test.

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18 minutes ago, ChertseyMike said:

 For a long time I bet most employers just favoured letting their older employees drive (or living in blissful ignorance of the law). 

 From 1997 until I retired (early) in 2012 I regularly had to remind my bosses at work about the B licence limits. The number of times I saw an employee who, having just passed the driving test, was expected to drive a fully loaded 3.5 tonne Transit towing a mini digger on a 2 tonne trailer was mind boggling. They seemed to have no knowledge of the B licence restrictions.

Edited by Flat_at
Doh, again
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On 26/07/2021 at 09:02, bnar21 said:

There's always the argument of well if you pass before 97 you can hook up what you want and tow, along with the 3500kg limit being too restrictive etc allowing you tow some outfits but not others, but personally I think it's spot on to have the additional test requirements to tow larger trailers.  The thought of a newly passed driver with little road experience being legal to tow anything that goes above the current B restrictions is scary. 

I passed my driving test early enough to be granted a licence to drive larger vehicles and to tow trailers - and I have been eternally grateful for that. Did I find it scary to be let loose into the big wide world with this permission? Certainly not BUT it was a responsibility I took seriously and accepted that my inexperience at the time had to be worked on before I became proficient driving any I vehicle listed on my licence entitlement.

 

 As a novice driver I was well aware that it would take time to gain confidence in all weather conditions, traffic densities, types of road, and lighting levels. The important thing for me was that I had a good instructor who taught me how to drive, not just how to pass a driving test. Consequently I passed the test first time but have been continually learning about driving ever since.

 

I didn't drive abroad for several years after passing my test but when I did, the experience I had gained in the UK served me well. While it felt odd the first time driving on the other side of the road, I found that I adapted quite quickly to this. The thing I found most difficult was upon my return to the UK, when neither side of the road felt right - and at the same time both felt wrong :blink: Concentration and care was the key, such that I soon found on following trips away that I felt perfectly at ease and the side I drove on was of no consequence - so long as everybody else was following the same rules.  

 

I quite like the idea adopted in some countries, where newly qualified drivers have to display a sticker on the rear of their vehicle indicating this fact, and restricting them to lower speed limits for the first couple of years after passing their test. There is no further test required but after the set time, that sticker can be legally removed as it is assumed that they have gained sufficient driving experience to safely anticipate the actions of others and so are permitted if road conditions allow, to drive up to the posted speed limits. The exception being that if they have an accident whereupon their licence returns to a provisional one, so requiring an instructor to sit with them until they resit and pass the driving test again.

 

Before my retirement I was required by my employer to drive virtually any vehicle from fork lift trucks to articulated lorries, delivery vans to a 45 ton crane, and my licence reflected this, although in the later years I spent most of my time in a control room.

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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When I left school, (1966), I became a Post Office Telephones apprentice. In those days, the Post Office had it's own driving instructors and examiners. If you passed your test on the P.O. you were eligible to get a small discount on your car insurance as you were considered to be a better trained driver, mainly because you learned to drive on vehicles that had no rear windows and therefore you had to use your mirrors to check behind you. You were also given "changeover" driving training as you had to drive trucks. You were also given training on hitching up and towing trailers. Indeed, up until my retirement in 2007, we still had to do a 3 monthly computer quiz on current driving restrictions and hazards, not sure if engineers still do that now. As Gordon says in his post above, we were taught how to drive and not how to simply pass the test. One of the reasons I still insist on checking the safety of the caravan hitch up myself. As my instructor told me, "YOU are the driver, YOU are the one responsible for the trailers safety. YOU are the one who will get prosecuted if anything goes wrong."

 

Ah! The good old days eh?

Edited by Townie
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:goodpost:s to Gordon and Townie

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50 minutes ago, Townie said:

When I left school, (1966), I became a Post Office Telephones apprentice. In those days, the Post Office had it's own driving instructors and examiners.

 

The operator of any  large fleet can operate that system, it’s more common than you might think.

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

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If that is the case, then there should be no serious barrier to the two clubs being able to set up something similar if they wanted to.  Possibly they might have to limit that to large urban areas or regular times of year to cope though.

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4 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

The operator of any  large fleet can operate that system, it’s more common than you might think.

Didn't know that Andy. I assumed that the Post Office did it in those days because they were part of the Civil Service. In those days, (late 60's), you couldn't drive a P.O. vehicle with an external, (non Civil Service),  licence until you had undergone "changeover" training. I remember getting my first car insurance £1:10 shillings cheaper because I'd passed the Civil Service test. (£26:10 shillings instead of £28!!)

Edited by Townie
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I think regardless of what  it states on your license everyone should have to take a test to be proven competent to tow 

 

Covering the fundamental basics.

 

Safe loading etc

 

almost anyone can tow in a straight line. We all know it’s reversing that is the issue for many.  

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Why not add taking a test to boil a kettle without scalding yourself? Mow the grass without chopping your feet off? We all have opinions, mine is that we have enough rules & regulations to occupy us so let’s just enjoy some freedom while we can.

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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3 hours ago, Lunar520 said:

I think regardless of what  it states on your license everyone should have to take a test to be proven competent to tow 

 

Covering the fundamental basics.

 

Safe loading etc

 

almost anyone can tow in a straight line. We all know it’s reversing that is the issue for many.  

And what about those who are already competent, like a lot of the members on here who have been towing for years.

 

What use would a test be to them?

 

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3 hours ago, Lunar520 said:

I think regardless of what  it states on your license everyone should have to take a test to be proven competent to tow 

Covering the fundamental basics.

Safe loading etc

almost anyone can tow in a straight line. We all know it’s reversing that is the issue for many.  

27 minutes ago, littlebasher said:

And what about those who are already competent, like a lot of the members on here who have been towing for years.

What use would a test be to them?

Reversing may be an issue for some, while for others it is not. That said not everybody is competent even in a solo car but presumably they have passed a test to prove their ability?

Personally I believe we have sufficient rules as it is, providing they are applied correctly. I have indicated elsewhere that I would be in favour of newly qualified drivers having certain restrictions (such as reduced speed limits and limited towing weight - eg 750kgs) that could be automatically removed after an acceptable time period - perhaps two years after passing their driving test? Alternatively there could be an option to take a further test to have these restrictions lifted sooner.

Just my thoughts . . . 

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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  • 2 weeks later...

The government has published a consultation on the proposal to (amongst other things) scrap the requirement to pass a B+E test to tow a car/trailer combination over 3500KG MAM.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-hgv-and-bus-driving-tests-and-allowing-car-drivers-to-tow-a-trailer-without-an-extra-test/changes-to-hgv-and-bus-driving-tests-and-allowing-car-drivers-to-tow-a-trailer-without-an-extra-test

 

I filled it out, highlighting that the current rules actually incentivise drivers without B+E to choose the lightest possible car with the heaviest possible trailer, making the combination less safe than if the driver was allowed to use a heavier car.

 

The proposal seems to be that the test will be replaced with optional training. That's probably better as you'd be able to use your own combination rather than the (tiny) trailers used by instructors.

Edited by jamesss
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The government has now published the consultation.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-hgv-and-bus-driving-tests-and-allowing-car-drivers-to-tow-a-trailer-without-an-extra-test/changes-to-hgv-and-bus-driving-tests-and-allowing-car-drivers-to-tow-a-trailer-without-an-extra-test

 

The B+E questions are:

 

Quote

 

Questions on amendment 3 – allow car drivers to tow a trailer without the need for an additional test.

Question 20

To what extend do you agree with the proposal that car drivers should be allowed to tow a trailer without the need for passing a B+E test?

Strongly agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
Don’t know

If disagree, please explain.

Question 21

How much, on average, does a B+E training course cost a driver?

Question 22

What benefits or dis-benefits are there for a driver if they don’t need to take a B+E test?

Question 23

Please explain how this will impact your business?

Question 24

Do you think drivers would continue to want to take some training, even if a test is not required?

Yes
No
Don’t know

Please supply supporting evidence where possible.

Question 25

Do you consider there to be any implications for the insurance industry?

Yes
No
Don’t Know

Please supply supporting evidence where possible.

Question 26

Do you consider there to be any concerns for road safety should the government implement this measure?

Yes
No
Don’t know

Please supply supporting evidence where possible.

 

 

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I doubt the test is effective in achieving any level of safety when towing  as it seems to be more about hitching and low speed manouvering. The worst thing is that you cannot take the test with a caravan, but have to use a freight trailer, which means a lot of what you have to do is totally irrelevant. I think possibly requiring you to take a specified course might work but even then I am not convinced. 

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9 minutes ago, Wildwood said:

I doubt the test is effective in achieving any level of safety when towing  as it seems to be more about hitching and low speed manouvering. The worst thing is that you cannot take the test with a caravan, but have to use a freight trailer, which means a lot of what you have to do is totally irrelevant. I think possibly requiring you to take a specified course might work but even then I am not convinced. 

 

This report is interesting- https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/818125/trailer-safety-statutory-report-print.pdf

 

It seems to be saying that nearly all the accidents where 1) the vehicle towing a trailer was at fault, and 2) where the collision was caused by the fact that the vehicle was towing, were actually caused by defects on the trailer rather than driver competence at towing. But then the MP involved says the number of these accidents is too low to justify the cost of introducing trailer MOTs.

 

Annual tests for caravans/trailers to check that the brakes/breakaway cable etc. are functional and tyres are not perished and likely to blow out seem like a good idea to me.

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Glad to see this is moving to consultation. Perhaps there is a sensible chance of it becoming a reality. A rare thing in my lifetime to have rules relaxed rather than tightened.

 

That said, does anyone know what the process is if the consultation goes off without a hitch? Perhaps less those B+E trainers who would suddenly lose business and find themselves with a useless box trailer.

 

I was reading the result of the consultation over removing the automatic transmission restriction on the B+E if the test was conducted in an automatic car, providing the driver had an unrestricted B class licence. It seems like such a no brainer given a you can pass a C+E test in an automatic and turn up to your first job driving a old unsynchronized 12 speed ERF.  Alas, I'm not aware that it has progressed any further yet.

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