NFU Scotland urges members to undertake voluntary towing training

National Farmer’s Union (NFU) Scotland has advised its members to undertake voluntary towing training to minimise the risk of accidents when towing.

This recommendation comes after the government announcement that from autumn 2021, there will be an automatic ability for those with a full car licence to tow a trailer with a car without an additional test.

This government decision is an effort to tackle the current HGV driver shortage at its source – driving tests. This, Minister of State for Transport Grant Shapps said, will allow for roughly 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be conducted yearly.

The exact date that the law will be changed has yet to be confirmed and will only apply where the trailer is up to a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 3,500kg.

In the meantime, in the interest of road safety and to help comply with Health and Safety legislation, NFU Scotland members are being encouraged to ensure that all staff who may have cause to tow a trailer with a car undertake additional training.

Combined with regular maintenance of trailers, this should ensure that the risk of accidents when towing is minimised, the union said.

Commenting, committee chair Tom French said: “The fact that the UK Government is looking at ways to address test backlogs is welcomed.

However, there are significant concerns over road safety on rural roads with potential for more inexperienced drivers towing trailers. For this reason, we are urging members to ensure that anybody towing has had adequate training.

“Voluntary training will remain available through the usual training providers and undertaking this will ensure that businesses reduce the risk of accidents and do not fall foul of health and safety legislation.”

NFU Scotland are also advising members who passed their driving test after 1997 to not tow unless they have undertaken the test, as doing so risks a fine of £1000, driving ban or six penalty points.

Those who passed their driving test prior to January 1997, NFU Scotland remind members, have acquired rights on towing.