Get the cor­rect driver’s li­cence!

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No, you can’t tow with a Code C1

Your buddy Dave reck­ons you can tow a Sprite Splash with a Code 10 heavy ve­hi­cle driver’s li­cence. The oke at the driv­ing school says that if you have the new C1 driver’s li­cence, Bob’s your un­cle. Then you run into Harry from the traf­fic of­fice at Spar and he’s pretty sure your C1 driver’s li­cence should do the trick – he was told that some time in the fu­ture, you will in fact be able to tow with it. It’s not ex­actly what you wanted to you hear, and now you’re in two minds again. You de­cide to go with what Harry and the guy from the driv­ing school said. Af­ter all, you know you’re a good driver and you don’t want to start from scratch again, get a learner’s driver’s li­cence or do the tow­ing test...

FIRST, THE BAD NEWS

You’re mis­in­formed and bound for trou­ble. At some stage, a law en­forcer is go­ing to nail you, be­cause you’re not al­lowed to tow your Splash with a C1 driver’s li­cence – fin­ish and klaar.

The tow­ing reg­u­la­tions in the Road Traf­fic Act (no. 93 of 1996) states this clearly, even if cer­tain peo­ple try to tell you dif­fer­ently. And it’s not just a fine that you need to worry about – your in­sur­ance won’t pay if you’re in­volved in an ac­ci­dent and don’t have the cor­rect driver’s li­cence for tow­ing.

WHAT’S THE PROB­LEM?

Road trans­port con­sul­tant Alta Swanepoel of Alta Swanepoel & As­so­ciates in Pre­to­ria says that the con­tin­u­ous de­bates, un­cer­tainty and con­fu­sion is un­nec­es­sary.

You only need to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions in the act, which is not that dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. She at­tributes the prob­lems and con­fu­sion to stub­born­ness and says that peo­ple should let go of the idea of the old driver’s li­cence and for­get it en­tirely.

“The leg­is­la­tion is ac­tu­ally very clear. Peo­ple are some­times stub­born. They still talk about a Code 8 and Code 10, which ceased to ex­ist 18 years ago. That adds to the con­fu­sion.”

Alta also says that there are peo­ple who don’t want to do the tow­ing test and try to talk their way around it.

The Act is how­ever clear. The fact is: If you don’t have a driver’s li­cence for tow­ing, you’ll have to ac­cept that you need to do a K53 again. You need to write a learner’s driver’s li­cence test and go for a tow­ing driver’s li­cence test there­after.

THE AN­SWER LIES IN THE ‘E’

A ba­sic break­down of the dif­fer­ent driver’s li­cence codes can be found on the back of your driver’s li­cence card. The crux of car­a­van tow­ing lies in the last three codes start­ing with an E: EB (light ve­hi­cle), EC1 (heavy ve­hi­cle) and EC (ex­tra-heavyve­hi­cle).

Th­ese driver’s li­cences are the only ones with which you can tow a trailer or car­a­van with a gross ve­hi­cle mass (GVM) of more than 750 kg.

Un­der the top group driver’s li­cences at the back of your driver’s li­cence card, you’ll find the nor­mal mo­tor ve­hi­cle driver’s li­cence (Code B) with which you are also al­lowed to tow, although noth­ing with a GVM of more than 750 kg. So you can tow a trailer or a small two-per­son car­a­van, as long as it states on the car­a­van’s plate that it has a GVM of 750 kg or less.

Un­der the top group, there is also two heavy ve­hi­cle driver’s li­cences: the C1 (or old Code 10) that some peo­ple wrongly view as a gen­eral tow­ing li­cence, and the C driver’s li­cence for ex­tra heavy ve­hi­cles. You are only al­lowed to tow a car­a­van with a GVM of 750 kg or lighter (and noth­ing heav­ier) with th­ese two heavy ve­hi­cle driver’s li­cences, just like with the Code B for mo­tor ve­hi­cles.

BUT WHY NOT?

Why aren’t you al­lowed to tow your Sprite with the B-, C1- or C driver’s li­cence, and only with Code EB, EC1 and EC?

Code B, C1 or C is for non-ar­tic­u­lated or rigid ve­hi­cles that don’t en­tail a horse and car­riage. Even if you don’t com­plete a tow­ing test for rigid ve­hi­cles, you are al­lowed to tow a car­a­van or trailer with a GVM of 750 kg or less. Code EB, EC1 and EC driver’s li­cences are specif­i­cally for ar­tic­u­lated ve­hi­cles and big­ger tow­ing com­bi­na­tion and re­quires a tow­ing test. If you want to tow any car­a­van or trailer with a GVM of more than 750 kg, you have to do the tow­ing test. If you ob­tained a Code 8 driver’s li­cence be­fore March 1998, you do how­ever have a tow­ing li­cence (EB), even if you never did a tow­ing test.

MO­TORHOMES AND BAKKIES

Au­thor­i­ties use three weight yard­sticks for driver’s and ve­hi­cle li­cences: The weight of the empty ve­hi­cle (tare); the gross ve­hi­cle mass (GVM); or the gross com­bi­na­tion mass (GCM).

With mo­torhomes, they’ve given some lee­way. Although th­ese are built on the chas­sis of a panel van, or a goods ve­hi­cle, it is con­sid­ered to be a nor­mal ve­hi­cle and the di­rec­tive for your driver’s li­cence and ve­hi­cle li­cence is its empty weight (tare). So you only need a nor­mal driver’s li­cence (B) for this type of ve­hi­cle.

If you’re go­ing to tow a Jimny or any­thing else with a GVM of more than 750 kg with it, the B driver’s li­cence won’t do – you’ll have to get a li­cence for tow­ing.

There’s no lee­way with bakkies. Even if your bakkie is your only driv­ing or tow­ing ve­hi­cle, it is still con­sid­ered to be a freight ve­hi­cle, not a nor­mal mo­tor ve­hi­cle.

As with a bus or truck, the weight yard­stick for a bakkie is GVM. If you have a Ford F250 with a GVM of more than 3,5 tons, for in­stance, you need a Code C1 driver’s li­cence to drive it and a EC1 to tow your car­a­van with it.

But that’s not all: You also need a pro­fes­sional driver’s per­mit, be­cause this ve­hi­cle has a GVM of more than 3,5 tons.

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