Safely and correctly towing trailers – what clients need to know

Safely and correctly towing trailers – what clients need to know

The only certainty about life on a farm is that no day is ever the same, from transporting feed and fertiliser to driving around animals and even workers. Most of your agriculture clients will make use of trailers in their day-to-day life – the key is to make sure that everyone driving vehicles and towing trailers have the correct licences and know the regulations. The last thing anyone wants is to have a claim denied in case of an accident, so here’s everything your clients need to know about safely towing a trailer.

Drivers licences: the difference between codes EB and B

Start off by advising farmers to double-check which of their employees holds what licence and what is allowed when it comes to towing. Firstly, there is the code EB licence – the former code 8. When card type licences were introduced, all drivers in possession of the old code 8 licence were automatically converted to code EB, which would allow the licensee to tow a caravan or trailer weighing in excess of 750kg. Drivers who obtained a B licence after the conversion may incorrectly assume that they are licenced to tow a trailer or caravan with a GVM of more than 750kg.

However, drivers need to be aware that an ordinary driver’s licence (code B) only allows them to tow a trailer with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) less than 750kg. For anything larger, such as a caravan, a code EB is required. Licence codes EC1 and EC also allows for towing GVM in excess of 750kg.

Tip: The indicator that one may tow more than 750kg is the ‘E’ in the licence code – EB, EC and EC1. This legislation has been around for some years already, but many are still unaware of this requirement.

Drivers who possess a code B or C licence and needs to tow a trailer or caravan weighing in excess of 750kg, will need to apply for and be tested for a code EB, EC or EC1 licence.

Driver’s licence vs. vehicle licence

A driver’s licence must not be confused with the vehicle licence. The existence or absence of a vehicle license does not alter the risk for the insurer. It does not have the same effect as a driver’s license and therefore the policy will respond regardless of the vehicle’s license status.

To tow legally, clients should consider the following factors: the towing and load specifications of the towing vehicle, the tow bar rating and the specifications of the trailer or caravan. The following terminology is used in calculating towing equation:

  • Tare: The ‘dry weight’ of the vehicle – the mass of the vehicle without passengers, fuel or luggage, but including standard fittings.
  • Payload: the maximum mass the vehicle may carry, including passengers, fuel and luggage.
  • Gross vehicle mass (GVM): the sum of Tare and Payload.
  • Gross combination mass (GCM): the sum of the gross vehicle mass of the towing vehicle and maximum towing capacity as stated by the manufacturer.
  • Manufacturer’s maximum towing capacity: the maximum towing capacity specified by manufacturer in kilograms. A distinction is drawn between self-braked trailers/caravans and those without own brakes.
  • Tow bar static load and tow bar maximum drawing capacity: as specified by the manufacturer.

What to know about trailer and caravan weight

  • If the trailer/caravan exceeds 750kg and has its own braking system, the weight of the vehicle must be equal to or more than the weight of the trailer/caravan.
  • For trailers up to 750kg, the Tare of the vehicle must be double that of the trailer. In other words, should a trailer weigh 750kg, the vehicle must weigh at least 1 500kg. Please note that most smaller vehicles have a Tare of less than 1 500kg.
  • Remember: the fitment of extras to a vehicle or trailer/caravan will affect the weight and will necessitate that the Tare mass of the vehicle be recalculated.

If you have any more questions about towing or trailers, get in touch with your relationship manager, email agriculture@santam.co.za or read more about our Agricultural product. Visit the Intermediaries section of our blog for more advice on understanding policies, for example: knowing the difference between consequential damage and loss