The key defiintion is around the total Maximum Authorised Mass which makes it illegal to pull a car and trailer combination up to 3.5 tonnes or a pull a trailer heavier than the vehicle without a test.
DSA and other statistics point to caravans being a significantly greater danger on Brisitsh and European roads than the range of other trailers commonly towed. However, caravans are exempt due to their low weight.
The practical test itself does not test the ability of a driver in any difficult situation. For example, one must reverse the vehicle/trailer combination but one is not expected to reverse around a corner or reverse park. The effectiveness of the indicators must be demonstrated by use of the indicator switch and the presence of a beeper – no further proof required?!?!? Can you use the handbrake? Can you put oil in your car? Can you conduct an emergency stop from 20mph safely?
I have never had to do an emergency stop from 20mph because I leave enough room between myself and the hazards (actual and potential) ahead. However, on a motorway at 50mph, the experience is all together different and the impacts of poor execution are significant.
Add to this that only those drivers who passed their test after 1997 are required to take the test despite the fact that most towers passed the test before that date. Is this because they are better drivers?
This test is simply a wayof the DSA and the labour government to make more money from an already failing system. Driver standards are continually falling disguised by improvements to vehicle and road safety. The largest group representing the greatest risk fall outside the scope of the test.
The test (along with all driver exams) should be significantly bolstered to reflect actual driving risks such as the need to be able to reverse around a corner to turn around when lost without blocking the queen’s highway whilst the driver performs like a stuffed toy. The test should also apply to EVERYONE pulling ANYTHING – broken down cars included. Either that or the test should be scrapped and the regulations returned to their pre 1997 state.