The safety of you and your family, other drivers on the road, and the animals onboard, is always paramount, but there are extra considerations to be aware of when towing a trailer.
These guidelines and safety points will help ensure you have a safe and relaxed journey. If you are concerned or need clarity on any road rules or requirements, please contact the Roads & Traffic Authority in your local state.
Towing is very different from everyday driving – it requires additional driving skills and safety precautions. As a driver, you have a legal responsibility to other road users when towing a trailer or another vehicle, to drive to suit the conditions.
The first step to safe towing is to ensure the vehicle, trailer and load are suited. While modern vehicles are lighter and provide better service for normal motoring, some do not have the necessary characteristics for towing. Vehicle manufacturers usually indicate in the owner’s manuals the maximum weight, or other trailer features, appropriate for the vehicle. These limits should not be exceeded. Similarly, some trailers are designed to carry certain types of loads and cannot be towed safely when carrying other materials.
- Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. If you haven’t had your vehicle serviced lately, getting a service done before a big trip is advisable. The last thing you need is to breakdown in outback Australia or on your way to an important show.
- Check your vehicle is suitable to tow the trailer. Make sure you know your towing limits & check your ball weight with the Proseries Ball Weight Scales.
- Ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct level, including your spare tyre. Check what the recommended tyre pressure is for your vehicle when towing.
Ensure the vehicle is properly equipped for the type and size of trailer
- Towbars and couplings must be of a suitable type and capacity;
- Electrical sockets for lighting are required;
- Suitable brake connections may be required;
- Towing options such as special suspension or transmission components or load-distributing devices, should be fitted to the vehicle by either the manufacturer, dealer or a firm specialising in towing equipment.
- Extra mirrors may be required for towing large trailers.
- Allow for the trailer’s tendency to ‘cut-in’ on corners and curves;
- Allow longer distances for braking, overtaking and joining a traffic stream;
- When reversing, it is advisable to have someone outside the vehicle giving directions;
- Avoid sudden lane changes or changes of direction;
- Look further ahead than normal so you can react to changes in traffic or road conditions;
- Use the accelerator, brakes and steering smoothly and gently at all times;
- Use a lower gear when travelling downhill to increase vehicle control and reduce strain on brakes;
- Slow down well before entering corners and curves;
- Accelerator, brake and steering must be operated smoothly when towing.
- The vehicle and trailer must comply with all relevant registration requirements;
- The vehicle and trailer must be in a roadworthy and safe condition;
- All trailers must be fitted with a rear number plate and a registration label fixed to the left side or rear of the body, with the label facing outward;
- Tow bars and couplings must not obscure the towing vehicle’s number plate or rear lights when the trailer is not connected;
- Towing more than one trailer is prohibited;
- People are not permitted to ride in trailers;
- The speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer is the same as for a normal vehicle.
We know that there’s a lot to think of before getting on the road, so use the above as a guideline to ensure safety is your number one priority.