Once you’ve passed your car driving test, a standard UK driving licence entitles you to tow trailers up to 3500kg (braked), and 750kg (un-braked). A braked trailer is one that has its own separate braking system. It is not currently a legal requirement to attend a trailer-towing training course, nor is to a requirement to take any safety advice for these categories of trailer.
Prior to Covid-19, taking a training course was a mandatory requirement, but due to a backlog of people waiting to take tests for a variety of other trailer categories, the government made a sudden change to the regulations for the basic level, and reverted back to a far older way of doing things. There was a reason that training and tests were introduced in the first place because after all, with this hook up and go mentality, what could go wrong?
Well actually there are loads of things that could go badly wrong for the novice driver, or even for an experienced driver but who has no towing experience. Fail to connect your trailer properly and it will become detached. If you have not deployed the safety strap then you could find your trailer overtaking you at speed, as the emergency brake will not have been activated. The outcomes from not adhering to the advice that follows could result in significant damage or a fatal incident.
Here is HM-D Trailers guide to how to stay safe on the roads while towing:
1. Check your vehicles towing capacity. You can usually find this information on a VIN plate mounted inside the driver’s door. This will tell you if you’re legally allowed to tow the trailer you have available, as well as the amount of weight you intend to tow that will be placed upon it.
2. Make sure the trailer handbrake is on before reversing your vehicle towards it; even a slight nudge could set your trailer moving in a direction not intended.
3. Reverse slowly to align your tow ball with the trailer hitch; get somebody to guide you into position.
4. Pull up the handle on the hitch ready for it to snap into position.
5. Start to wind the jockey wheel handle to lower the trailer down (and raise the jockey wheel up), and wait for the handle on the hitch to snap into place.
6. Safety tip – Now wind out the jockey wheel back down, so that it lifts the trailer up a bit. By doing so you will see if your trailer hitch has actually locked onto the vehicle tow ball. You will be amazed how many times drivers fail to check and assume the hitch has locked in place correctly.
7. Finally wind the jockey wheel all the way up, and note that the wheel folds up as you raise it. This is a feature on all HM-D Trailers. You must tighten the jockey wheel to prevent it vibrating down in transit.
8. Attach the Safety Strap around the tow ball, or clip it to a lug on your vehicle trailer hitch. In the event that the trailer does become detached the strap will activate the hand brake. If you have carried out step 5 correctly then this shouldn’t happen – but at least it provides an additional safety net.
9. Now you can connect the lights. HM-D Trailers all have the 13 pin connector. These are easy to engage. Once you have lined up the connector with the socket on your vehicle (check the orientation of the grooves), push it in and then twist the outer sleeve so it locks into position and cannot vibrate loose.
10. Check all of your lights are working (indicators, hazards, reverse & brakes), and fit your spare number plate securely to the back of the trailers so that it is clearly visible.
11. Check your wheels for any damage, ensure the tyres are inflated to the correct PSI, and make sure you check that the wheel nuts are tightened sufficiently.
12. Finally check your load and that it is properly secured to the trailer. You should periodically check that your load is secure at various stages along your journey, and when you are towing any sort of trailer.
View our full video guide below!