A motorhome is a great way to holiday with your family because you can go anywhere you please if a location isn’t turning out to be as entertaining for the whole family as you had wanted. There are many things to consider when you are buying a motorhome as it is such an investment and sometimes there are things that are overlooked or forgotten. One of the things you are least likely to think of when it comes to buying and driving a motorhome is are you actually allowed to drive that kind of vehicle. It is a common perception to just assume that once you buy a vehicle you will just be able to drive it providing you have the right type of insurance; in this case it would be motorhome insurance but this is not always the case so don’t start your motorhome adventure on the wrong foot!
When did you pass your test?
On the back of a driving licence is a list of the vehicles you are allowed to drive under that licence so make sure you have checked what you are allowed to drive. If you passed your driving licence after January 1997 then you are restricted to the type of motorhome you are allowed to drive. You are only allowed a vehicle up to the maximum limit of 3,500kg.
If you do hold a licence that was issued after 1997 then the chances are that you will be able to drive most motorhomes however if you wish to drive one that weighs more than 3.5 tonnes you will have to complete an additional test. On this licence you can add additional vehicle entitlements and is often referred to as a B+E. However, if you do not wish to take the additional test you can take your motorhome to a local dealer and see if they will re-plate your chassis to make it in line with guidelines. In some cases this is possible.
The reason the additional tests were introduced were for commercial vehicle drivers and many who take the test do not find it relevant to driving larger motorhomes. However, the European Caravan Federation in which the National Caravan Council is part of had been lobbying for legislation to be changed in Europe. They were asking for different tests for commercial drivers and those who are just driving larger motorhomes to the tests become more useful.
National Caravan Council
The campaigns to have the laws changed did result in the sub category C1 97 being created which includes larger vehicles that are used for leisure or personal use. This is good news for motorhome owners as they won’t need to learn how to use a tachograph. The National Caravan Council has said, “Further work is nevertheless required on C1 97 to gain easements or exemptions to reduce the burden on tests for leisure vehicle divers.”
The National Caravan Council is now working very closely with the Driving Standards Agency in the UK and the DVLA to ensure that the C1 97 is in line with the European agreement so it can be introduced at the end of the year. This will make life easier for those who want to drive a motorhome that weighs more than.
If you are going on holiday with your family and planning on taking members who are over 70 you need to work out if they will be driving the vehicle at any point. If they are over 70 and want to drive your motorhome that weighs more than 3,500 kg then they will have to pass a medical exam before they are allowed to continue driving your vehicle. Although this is just not for those who want to drive a motorhome. If your family member is over 70 and still driving then they have probably already passed this medical but it is good to double check.
Overall, safety is the most important thing when it comes to driving on the roads no matter the vehicle. It is understandable that for larger vehicles more expertise is needed although the tests need to be relevant to the user rather than a mass exam.
Make sure you aren’t caught out because you simply took your test after January 1997. Like anything ensure you have completed as much research as possible before buying any type of motorhome for anything and everything that could be an issue in the future. This will ensure that you and your family shouldn’t run into any issues whilst you are enjoying your holidays.
Not only do you need to make sure you know which vehicle you can drive you also need to know when maintenance checks need to be carried out, how much running a vehicle of this size will cost and where you are going to store the vehicle.