Am I insured to pull a trailer if I don't have a trailer licence?
Q: I have been driving a jeep for many years both for my personal use and also for towing a cattle trailer to and from the mart, and also around the farm. I have heard recently of farmers being stopped by gardaí while towing trailers as they did not hold the correct licence. I am worried that I will potentially have to face into another driving test and whether or not my insurance will cover me in the case of an accident if I do not have the correct licence.
A. This question has come up many times recently as it seems the number of drivers being stopped while towing trailers without the correct licence is increasing.
The majority of drivers in Ireland who have passed a driving test or hold a 'full driving licence' have a B license.
This type of licence allows the driver to tow a trailer (a) where the MAM (maximum authorised mass) of the trailer is not greater than 750kg or (b) where the MAM of the trailer exceeds 750kg (0.75 tonne), the combined MAM of the towing vehicle and the trailer is not greater than 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes).
The MAM is the weight of a trailer including the maximum load it can carry in accordance with the manufacturer's design specifications.
To establish the MAM of your trailer, you should check the manufacturer's statutory plate affixed to it. If there is no plate affixed to the trailer and the authorised distributor for the trailer cannot give you this information, you should get a suitably qualified individual to rate the trailer for you and affix a plate to it.
Bearing in mind that a typical Isuzu Trooper weighs almost two tonnes - by adding even a small cattle trailer, most farmer drivers will find themselves exceeding the maximum authorised mass allowed on the B license while towing.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has stated that as a general rule, a category B licence would not entitle the holder to tow a horsebox or a livestock trailer because the DGCW/MAM would exceed 3,500kg.