Drivers asked for views on DVSA plans to change licence rules

Members of the public have been asked to give their views on proposed changes to the way car licensing and motorbike testing are handled.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has launched a consultation on changes which it says will simplify the process of upgrading a driving licence or gaining a certain grades of motorcycle licence.

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The first part of the consultation applies to upgrading from an automatic licence to a manual licence when towing a trailer, caravan or horsebox. Currently anyone who has passed a car and trailer test in an automatic car must sit another test in a manual car to upgrade their licence.

However, under the proposals drivers who passed their driving test in an automatic vehicle in one of three specific categories would be allowed to drive a manual vehicle as long as they can already drive a manual vehicle in another category.

The three categories are:

  • car and trailer (B+E)
  • medium-sized lorry (C1) and its trailer towing equivalent (C1+E)
  • minibus (D1) and its trailer towing equivalent (D1+E)

A similar change was made for drivers of lorries, buses and coaches in 2014.

The DVSA says that the changes reflect the fact that most drivers will have already have a manual licence, even if they passed the trailer segment of their test in an automatic.

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The consultation states: “We think that the time is right to bring medium-sized lorries and mini-buses, together with their trailer entitlements, into line with the test and licence upgrade arrangements for...larger vehicles.

“The government considers that this proposal should also apply to car and trailer tests. This is because most drivers who want to tow a trailer with their car will already have full manual entitlement. It shouldn’t matter if they happen to pass their test using a vehicle with automatic transmission, which may have been supplied by their trainer.”

Qualifying drivers would still have to apply to upgrade their licence before being allowed to tow with a manual vehicle.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The second proposed change is to lower the minimum engine size for bikes used in the A2 motorcycle test.

Currently, the minimum engine size permitted for learners is 345cc, however under the proposal this would be reduced to 245cc, allowing riders to use lighter 250cc bikes.

The DVSA says the move reflects advances in technology that mean many smaller-capacity bikes now meet the minimum power limit required for an A2 test.