Problem with mechanical coupling? Then you really need to read Directive 94/20/EC!

legal_updates

We were asked to advise a client on minimum and maximum distances between towbar/drawbar couplings and vehicle bodywork.

Author: Howard Tilney
Published:
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 6 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

This is a truly riveting, but rather technical 65 page tome from our friends in Brussels dealing with everything you need to know and more ‘relating to the mechanical coupling devices of motor vehicles and their trailers and their attachment to those vehicles’, aka towbars and the like.

Last week we were asked to advise a client on minimum and maximum distances between towbar/drawbar couplings and vehicle bodywork. Since this is something we are not asked every day, we had the perfect excuse to indulge our academic interest and delve into the Directive.

Perhaps the key point of the Directive is that only ‘type approved’ devices should be fitted to vehicles.

Whilst that may be common knowledge to most, we were asked to address a specific point, which was rather more obscure.  

Under Annex VII, Section 2.3.4 headed ‘Accessibility’, states that ‘The distance between the centre of the coupling pin and rear edge of the vehicle bodywork must not exceed 420mm.’

‘However, the distance of 420mm may be exceeded if technical necessity can be demonstrated.’ This paragraph goes on to provide further specifications.

Section 2.3.6 headed ‘Clearance for free movement of drawbar coupling’, states that ‘The drawbar coupling attached to the vehicle must have a minimum clear gap of 10mm from every other part of the vehicle taking into account all possible geometrical positions in accordance with Annex V’ and

‘If different types of standard drawbar couplings are intended to be fitted to the vehicle type, the clearance must be such that the conditions are also satisfied for the largest possible coupling of the appropriate class stated in Annex V, Section 3’.

Amongst other things, the Directive is designed to create free trade.

So, one can fit any ‘type approved’ towing device without invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty.

Under the EC Block Exemption Rules a vehicle manufacturer cannot prevent the supply or fitting of components deemed to be of equal quality to that supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. In the present context, this will of course include ‘type approved’ devices.

The National Trailer and Towing Association (www.ntta.co.uk) will be able to offer further technical and practical advice on specific requirements.

Howard Tilney

Legal Advisor

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.