Do I need towing mirrors for my Caravan?
There is one topic that can guarantee to erupt a passionate argument among caravanners – Towing Mirrors.
Every post that appears on Caravan forums about whether you need them or not receives a huge number of impassioned arguments from both sides.
So why all the confusion? Do you need them or not? Are they law or not?
The RMS rules are fairly general and non specific.
“Towing vehicles must be properly equipped with:
· Towbars and couplings of a suitable type and capacity
· Electrical sockets for lighting
· Brake connections if the trailer is ﬁtted with power or electric brakes.
· Extra mirrors may be needed for the towing vehicle if towing a large trailer
· For vehicles with automatic transmission, an extra transmission oil cooler may be needed
· Some vehicles need structural reinforcement and/or special suspension and transmission options and load-distributing devices to be able to tow heavier trailers.”
This is why it gets confusing the sentence:
“Extra mirrors may be needed for the towing vehicle if towing a large trailer”
So when will they be required and how big does the trailer need to be?
To get this kind of detail you need to turn to the he Australian Design Rules (ADRs)
In particular: Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 14/02 – Rear Vision Mirrors) 2006 Amendment 1
These are national standards for vehicle safety. They detail the minimum requirements for vehicle design. The Act enables the Australian Government to establish nationally uniform standards for road vehicles.
The Act is Legislation that has been made and enacted by The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, which makes it the law.
The ACT states that the vehicle must not be constructed or equipped in a manner that inhibits that field of vision or have anything attached to it that inhibits that view.
In particular ‘A driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver’.
This is the point is where debate hots up on caravan forums.
Some caravanners think they can see just fine with the larger 4WDs on the market and do not require a towing mirror.
This may be or may not be true.
The ACT provides details of how to calculate the field of vison. This is complicated, long winded and hard to understand.
A simpler method to see if you are compliant is to attach your trailer to your vehicle and stand directly behind each of the rearmost corners of the trailer at a distance of about 20m from your side rear-view mirrors.
If you can see each mirror in its entirety, then you are likely to be compliant.
If the mirrors are partially obscured or completely hidden behind the trailer, then you must install extension mirrors.
And while NSW RMS rules say mirror “May be required” other states have differing rules and regulations. Meaning if you are planning to travel interstate you may need mirrors if you do not have them to be compliant with the laws interstate.
By far the simplest solution to avoid both legal and insurance issues is to own and use a pair of towing mirrors. At the end of the day having better vision when towing can hardly be a disadvantage.
Towing mirrors are readily available, affordable, easy to install and can be bought for as little as $19.95.