The changes, which will be coming before the end of 2021, mean that anyone with a full driving licence will be able to tow a trailer or caravan without an extra test. Before the rule change, those who passed their car driving test before January 1, 1997, could drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).
Moving off needs more effort and slowing down, stopping and bends take a lot longer, so drivers should be cautious.
Many trailers, caravans and horseboxes, for example, are wider and taller than the towing vehicle, so drivers should take extra care with road positioning.
This is especially true when pulling over alongside kerbs, entering toll booths or refuelling at petrol stations.
Similarly, leave extra room on bends as trailers cut corners when turning.
GEM advises drivers to anticipate traffic ahead of them, saying: “If you see a car far ahead put its brakes on, start to slow down yourself, don’t wait for the car directly in front to brake.
“With a loaded trailer you will not stop as quickly as you are used to, so leave plenty of space.”
Drivers should also be well aware of the speed limits for towing at all times, whilst also remembering that when towing, drivers are not permitted in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three lanes or more.
Reversing with a caravan can also be difficult, with drivers being advised to remain slow and steady.
Drivers should find a big empty field or car park so they can quietly practice and make their own mistakes.
To steer the trailer, drivers need to move the wheel in the opposite direction to that if you were reversing the car with no trailer.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth urged drivers, whatever their experience level, to put safety first on every towing journey.
He said: “Doing away with the test raises safety concerns, but we take the view that individual responsibility must be even more of a priority for every driver who’s towing.
“We all need to ensure we know what we’re doing before setting off with a trailer.
“For example, what if we are on a narrow lane and we have to reverse? What if we encounter strong crosswinds? What if the trailer becomes unstable and starts snaking behind us?
“Additionally, as many owners of trailers and caravans use them infrequently, it’s important to ensure the trailer is in a fit state for the road, as well as checking load distribution, lights, tyres, brakes and couplings.”