The requirement will be dropped later this autumn, although an exact date has not been announced. However, the DVSA has cancelled all B+E driving tests from 21 September onwards.
Currently, anyone who passed their driving test after 1 January 1997 can drive a vehicle of up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer or caravan of up to 750kg MAM. They can also tow a heavier trailer as long as the total MAM of the car and trailer doesn’t exceed 3,500kg.
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For anything heavier a B+E qualification is needed. For drivers who qualified before 1997, a MAM of 8,250kg is allowed.
In 2018 30,000 people sat the trailer test - a 50 per cent increase from 2014/15.
The move is part of a package of changes being introduced to try to address the current shortage of lorry drivers.
Supply chains around the country are being hit by a lack of qualified HGV drivers and the DVSA hopes that the changes will free up 50,000 HGV test appointments per year.
As well as dropping the car and trailer test, the HGV test is being simplified, with a single test for rigid and articulated vehicles and the removal of reversing and trailer coupling exercises.
Driver training and road safety charity IAM Roadsmart has warned that removing the car and trailer test could harm road safety.
Its director of research, Neil Greig, said: ““The DSA had a clear safety reason for introducing the test in 1997, and these reasons are still valid. People need proper training to be able to drive an articulated vehicle, particularly when they are doing so for the first time.
“We are very concerned the decision will exacerbate an existing safety situation as currently, as per DVSA’s own safety checks, up to one in six caravans they stopped had a serious safety issue, while four in 10 small trailers were also found with serious safety issues. Many of these could have been avoided by better training and awareness of towing safety best practice.”