Draft Australian National Towing Regulations

Introduction

Important Note: These draft national towing regulations below are NOT currently in force. They are a set of rules drafted by RV Books for discussion purposes only.

These rules are derived from the towing regulations currently in force in each Australian state and territory. They are designed to minimise changes in current legislation, relying as far as possible on existing wording, rules and references whilst at the same time providing simplicity and clarity for both users and enforcers.

This short set of draft national rules shows how easy it is to create a single set of towing rules for the whole country. Doing so would, in the view of RV Books:

  • create a safer towing environment by elimination legislation confusion among drivers
  • make enforcement easier and more cost effective
  • help improve the quality and standardisation of RV construction
  • increase the number of interstate journeys by RV owners

Feedback on these draft rules is welcome.   

General

Roadworthiness

Tow vehicles, trailers and towing equipment must comply with all relevant Australian Standards and be roadworthy at all times.

Trailer Dimensions

Maximum trailer width: 2.5 metres, maximum trailer height: 4.3 metres, maximum tow vehicle and trailer combination length: 19 metres

Tow Vehicle Number Plates

Tow vehicle rear number plates and lights must not be obscured by towing equipment when no trailer is connected.

Trailer Number Plates

One number plate must be fitted to the rear of a trailer. Numbers and letters on number plates must be clearly visible both day and night from up to 20 metres and within an arc 45 degrees above or to either side of the vehicle.

Towing more than one trailer

Prohibited.

Passengers riding in trailer

Prohibited.

Learner and P1/P2 drivers towing a trailer

Learners prohibited. Provisional drivers may tow a trailer up to 750 kg laden weight.

Maximum Towing Speed

The posted speed limit, but not to exceed 100 km/h.

Maximum Towing Weight

Manufacturer-specified maximum weight limits for tow vehicle, trailer and towing equipment must not be exceeded.

These are:

  • For the tow vehicle: Gross Vehicle Mass ('GVM'), Gross Combined Mass ('GCM') and maximum towing capacity
  • For the trailer: Aggregate Trailer Mass ('ATM') and Gross Trailer Mass ('GTM')
  • For towing equipment: maximum tow bar mass, maximum tow ball mass and maximum trailer coupling load


Maximum Towing Weight (Older Vehicles)

Where no weight limits have been specified by the manufacturer of older vehicles (either tow vehicles or trailers), special weight limits apply. Contact your road authority for details.

Towing Equipment

Towbars

Towbars and couplings must be of a suitable type and capacity. Towbars must be clearly and permanently marked with their maximum rated capacity, part number, vehicle/s for which they are intended and manufacturer's name or trade mark. Towbars must not protrude dangerously or have sharp corners when no trailer is connected.

Electrics

Coupling must have electrical socket for lighting and brake connections if brakes are fitted. Trailer lights, indicators and reflectors to be fitted and working in accordance with Australian Standards.

Coupling

Coupling must be strong enough to take the weight of a fully loaded trailer and must be marked with manufacturer's name or trade mark and rated capacity. Coupling must be equipped with a positive locking mechanism which must be able to be released regardless of the angle of the trailer to the towing vehicle.

Trailer Brakes

Trailer up to 750 kg ATM - no brakes required. Trailer between 751-2000 kg ATM - braking on both wheels on at least one axle. Trailer between 2001-4500 kg ATM - braking on all wheels plus an automatic breakaway system that performs in accordance with VSB 1. Brakes must be operable from the driver's seating position. Over-run brakes must not be used on trailers over 2000 kg ATM.

Safety Chains

Trailers less than 2500 kg ATM must be fitted with at least one safety chain, trailers over 2500 kg ATM must have two safety chains. Chains and attachments must conform to Australian Standards. Chains must be as short as practicable but long enough to permit turning, permanently connected to the trailer and must be crossed over if two chains are fitted.

Mirrors

A tow vehicle that is towing a trailer wider than the tow vehicle must have one mirror fitted to each side of the tow vehicle that gives the driver a clear view to the sides and rear of the trailer. Such mirrors must comply with Australian standards and should be removed when not towing.

Long Vehicle Rules

(applies to tow vehicle and trailer combinations over 7.5 metres long)

Stopping of Long Vehicles

Long vehicles may only stop on road shoulders outside built up areas and may only stop in built up areas for 1 hour unless signs say otherwise or unless picking up goods (for the entire period).

Minimum Distance between Long Vehicles

When towing and driving on a single lane highway that is not in a built up area, drive at least 60 metres behind other long vehicles (unless overtaking).

Left/Right Turning of Long Vehicles

If you are driving a long vehicle, you may straddle two lanes to turn left or right and whilst doing so vehicles behind you may not overtake you, provided you have the appropriate ‘Do Not Overtake Turning Vehicle’ sticker(s) at the rear of your trailer.

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