Meeting Author Fikile Hlatshwayo
May 5, 2017
Wheelchair friendly
May 7, 2018

Check that Licence!

For the mostly under-40s who passed their driver’s license test after about 1998 the caravan part could turn out to be a very expensive problem. Should they have an accident while towing anything with a GVM of more than 750 kg they could well find out the hard way that their insurance won’t cough up for damage to their car, trailer, or any other vehicles involved. Why? Because they’re driving without a valid driving licence.
When the credit-card licence system was introduced in the late 1990’s, the vehicle categories covered by our legislation were revised to conform with international standards. While the previous light motor vehicle licence was “Code 08”, the new legislation allows a “Code B” licence to be issued to the driver who passes the test in a normal car or small pickup. This allows the licence holder to drive a light motor vehicle and, if he wishes, tow a trailer with a gross vehicle mass of no more than 750kg – that’s the weight of the trailer plus its cargo. Most family caravans weigh possibly double that. A Code EB licence on the other hand allows the driver of the same car or bakkie to haul any trailer that can be legally towed by that vehicle. When holders of the old Code 08 driver’s licences converted to the credit card licences at the time they were with little fanfare automatically granted Code EB status, but anybody who passed their driver’s test in a light motor vehicle sans trailer subsequent to 1998 earned a Code B licence. Should they later wish to tow a trailer or caravan weighing more than the stipulated 750 kg fully laden they have to go through the whole rigmarole of passing a learner’s licence test and then doing the full driving test with an appropriate trailer in tow.

By ignoring the law and towing a fairly large caravan or trailer illegally you’re risking more than just a fine. There’s also a very good chance that if you’re involved in an accident your insurance will refuse to pay for any damage to your vehicle or the other one involved. If anybody should be hurt, the legal consequences could be devastating. Remember to check those licences – yours, as well as those of your family and employees who will tow your trailer or caravan. – Gavin Foster