7. Rules for vehicles used in the practical driving test

Lorries, buses and coaches used in the practical test have to meet certain rules. If they don’t you won’t be able to use it for the test and:

  • your test will be cancelled
  • you may lose your test fee

Some vehicles and trailers must also carry a minimum weight.

Rules for lorries

All vehicles used for category C1, C1+E, C and C+E tests must be capable of 50mph.

They must be fitted with:

  • externally mounted nearside and offside mirrors plus externally mounted nearside and offside mirrors for the examiner to use
  • seatbelts fitted to seats used by the examiner or any person supervising the test
  • a tachograph
  • an anti-lock braking system (ABS) - please note that trailers don’t need to be fitted with ABS

A tractor unit is not a suitable vehicle for a category C or C1 test.

All trailer cargo compartments must be:

  • of a closed box construction
  • at least as high and wide as the towing vehicle

For C1+E the trailer may be slightly less wide than the towing vehicle, but the view to the rear must be by the use of external mirrors only.

Rules for medium-sized lorries: categories C1 and C1+E

A category C1 vehicle is a medium-sized lorry:

  • with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of at least 4 tonnes
  • at least 5 metres long
  • with a closed box cargo compartment at least as wide and as high as the cab

MAM is the maximum weight of the vehicle including the maximum load that can be carried safely while used on the road. This is also known as ‘gross vehicle weight’.

There are 2 types of vehicle that you can use for the category C1+E test:

  • a drawbar combination of a category C1 vehicle towing a trailer of at least 2 tonnes MAM with a combined length of at least 8 metres
  • a medium-sized articulated lorry with a MAM of at least 6 tonnes with a combined length of at least 8 metres

Rules for large goods lorries: category C

Category C vehicles are large goods lorries:

  • with a MAM of at least 12 tonnes
  • at least 8 metres long
  • at least 2.4 metres wide

The vehicle must have:

  • at least 8 forward ratios
  • a closed box cargo compartment at least as wide and as high as the cab

Category C+E vehicles must:

  • have at least 8 forward ratios
  • be at least 2.4 metres wide

There are 2 types of C+E test vehicle:

  • a drawbar combination of a category C vehicle and trailer with a MAM of 20 tonnes and a length of at least 7.5 metres from coupling eye to extreme rear and a combined length of at least 14 metres
  • an articulated lorry with a MAM of at least 20 tonnes, a minimum length of 14 metres and maximum length of 16.5 metres

Rules for buses and coaches

All the vehicles used for categories D1, D1+E, D and D+E tests must be capable of 50mph.

The vehicle must be fitted with:

  • externally mounted nearside and offside mirrors including suitably positioned mirrors for the examiner to use
  • a seatbelt for the examiner or any person supervising the test
  • a tachograph
  • anti-lock braking (ABS)

Stretch limousines and prison vans based on a lorry chassis can’t be used for the category D test.

Rule for minibuses: sub-category D1

Category D1 vehicles are minibuses, which are passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs):

  • with between 9 and 16 passenger seats
  • with a MAM of at least 4 tonnes
  • at least 5 metres in length

Category D1+E vehicles are D1 vehicles towing a closed box trailer:

  • with a MAM of at least 1.25 tonnes
  • at least 2 metres high
  • at least 2 metres wide

Rules for buses and coaches: category D

Category D vehicles are buses and coaches, which are PCVs:

  • with more than 8 passenger seats
  • at least 10 metres long
  • at least 2.4 metres wide

Category D+E vehicles are category D vehicle towing a closed box trailer:

  • with a MAM of at least 1.25 tonnes
  • at least 2 metres high
  • at least 2 metres wide

Minimum load requirement

The table shows which vehicles and trailers need to carry a minimum weight for the practical test and what the minimum load requirements are.

Your test will be cancelled and you can lose your fee if your vehicle doesn’t meet the rules.

Vehicle category Vehicle or trailer affected Minimum real weight Minimum load requirement
C Vehicle 10,000 kg 5 x 1,000 litre IBCs
C+E ‘drawbar’ vehicle Towing lorry and trailer 10,000 kg for lorry and 5,000 kg for trailer 5 x 1,000 litre IBCs (lorry) and 3 x 1,000 litre IBCs (trailer)
C+E articulated lorry Semi-trailer 15,000 kg 8 x 1,000 litre IBCs
B+E, C1+E, D1+E and D+E Trailers 800 kg 600 kg of aggregates or 1 IBC of 1,000 kg or 600 kg capacity when filled with water

Rules about the load

The load can be water or bagged aggregates like sand, stone chippings, gravel or any other recycled material packages (but not toxic materials). Bagged aggregates can only be used on vehicle categories B+E, C1+E, D1+E and D+E.

Bagged aggregates must be in sealed transparent bags and must:

  • all weigh the same
  • be at least 10kg
  • have the weight clearly stamped on them

Water must be in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) which are made from semi-transparent moulded plastic usually reinforced with a wire framework.

The examiner may need to inspect an IBC used as ‘load’ for the test, so it’s important that they can visually check it has the correct water level.

You can’t use any other type of load.

The load must be secured appropriately onto the vehicle or trailer.

Minimum real weight

The ‘real weight’ is the actual weight of the vehicle and the load combined. This cannot be more than the maximum authorised mass (MAM).

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

These rules also apply to vehicles used for Driver CPC practical tests.

Vehicles used for Driver CPC periodic training don’t have to be laden.

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