The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is urging drivers to ensure they have the correct licence for the trailers they are towing.

Its comments follow a number of cases where drivers of 4X4 vehicles have been pulled over by Gardai for pulling trailers without the correct licence.

At the end of June, a driver of a Toyota Landcruiser was stopped in Co. Wexford while towing a trailer, according to a tweet on the official Twitter page for An Garda Siochana. The driver was said not to have a valid BE driving licence.

“If you have a category B driving licence to drive a vehicle – a car or jeep – you can tow a small trailer. If you want to tow a larger trailer, you must have category BE on your licence,” an RSA spokesperson said.

“On a category B licence, you can tow a trailer with a MAM – maximum authorised mass – of not greater than 750kg, and/or if the MAM of the trailer exceeds 750kg, the total combined MAM of the vehicle and trailer must not exceed 3,500kg.

As a general rule, your category B licence will not allow you to tow a horse box or a livestock trailer for bringing animals to the local mart.

On a category BE licence, the RSA said, you can tow a trailer where the MAM of the towing vehicle and trailer combination is not greater than 7,000kg.

“The weight limit for a vehicle can be found in the vehicle manual. It will set a limit on the total weight of the vehicle and its load. This is known as the MAM, and is also sometimes known as Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW).

“It covers the weight of the vehicle, passengers, and fuel, as well as any load carried on a roof-rack,” the RSA spokesperson said.

Under no circumstances should a trailer be loaded to the extent that it exceeds the manufacturer’s specified towing capacity for the towing vehicle, the RSA warned.

If possible, loads should be evenly distributed across the trailer and positioned in such a way as to keep the nose weight – the weight on the trailer drawbar on the towing bracket – within the recommended limits for the towing vehicle. This figure will be in the owner’s manual.

For trailer security, the RSA recommends photographing the trailer – ideally with the owner included. A record should also be kept of the manufacturer’s make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN).

“This is best achieved by taking a digital image of the manufacturer’s plate and saving it in a secure location. You may also wish to take images of any unique features on your trailer.”