What You Need to Know Before You Tow

Law and Rules

Although we like to make buying a trailer in Adelaide as simple as possible, towing one might not always be as straightforward as you think — particularly if you’ve never towed a trailer before. That’s why we’ve compiled a simple checklist of some of the laws and regulations around towing a trailer in South Australia, as well as some practical tips to ensure you’re towing safely.

Check that your vehicle is up to the job

Your car, SUV or 4WD will have recommendations from the manufacturer about the maximum load your vehicle is capable of towing (generally referred to as the towing mass). The tow bar and tow coupling will also have a rated capacity i.e., the maximum weight they are geared up to tow. You are breaking the law if you ignore any of this information, as well as potentially endangering your and other road users’ safety.

Have you got enough brake power?

Being able to stop safely when you’re towing is crucial to keeping you and other road users safe. In South Australia, there are some clear rules you have to follow when it comes to the braking capabilities on trailers.

  1. If the Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) of your trailer exceeds 750kg, or the mass of the trailer exceeds the mass of your towing vehicle, then the trailer needs to be fitted with brakes.
  2. If the trailer is fitted with brakes that the driver controls, the mass of the trailer cannot exceed 1.5 x the mass of the vehicle towing it.
  3. If the GTM of a trailer exceeds 2 tonnes, a breakaway system needs to be fitted to the brake system. A breakaway system ensures that the brakes are automatically applied if the trailer becomes detached from the towing vehicle.

Make sure everything is connected as it should be

In South Australia, there are several laws in place regarding how a trailer should be wired up and connected to the vehicle towing it in terms of lighting. In short, whatever you have on the towing vehicle has to be on the trailer as well, and they need to work in unison i.e., indicators, brake lights and tail lights all have to go on on your trailer when they go on on your car.

In order to comply with towing regulations in SA, you need to make sure your trailer has:

  • 2 x tail lights (which also act as reversing lights)
  • 2 x brake lights
  • 2 x indicators (which can also be used as hazard lights)
  • 2 x red reflectors (one on each side at the rear). If the trailer is over 2.2 m wide, then there also needs to be reflectors fitted to front of the trailer and within 400 mm of the sides.
  • Number plate light (it is acceptable for the number plate to be illuminated by the tail lights)

You also need to ensure that you have a safety chain or cable that connects the tailer to the towing vehicle in case the tow coupling accidentally becomes detached.

General rules and regulations for towing a trailer in SA

There are some other important laws that you need to know to ensure you are towing your trailer as safely as possible, besides the weight, braking and lighting requirements:

  • You can’t tow a trailer with a person in it.
  • You need to make sure that your load is fully secured and adheres to the laws regarding how far it can protrude from the trailer. You can be fined if your load doesn’t fall within these guidelines.
  • If something falls from your trailer, you are legally obliged to remove it from the road.

What next?

We hope this information proves useful and means that you can now tow with greater confidence. If you have any further questions about towing regulations in SA, or about trailers in general, then please feel free to get in touch with Sam at Basic Trailers in Adelaide on 1300 770 770.

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