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Towbar Safety

The towbar on the towing vehicle must comply with Australian Design Rule 62, and the relevant standards and regulations. Capacity of the towbar and the coupling must match or exceed the total mass of the towed vehicle and the A-frame coupling. A towbar fitted to a vehicle built after January 1992 must be marked with its load capacity and either the vehicle model for which it is designed or the towbar manufacturer’s part number. The towbar must not protrude dangerously, or have sharp corners that could be a safety hazard when the A-frame is not attached. The towbar must be fitted with two attachments for connecting safety chains, one on each side of the coupling. Towbar chain attachments must be able to withstand the rated load capacity of the towbar. The safety chain attachments must be mounted adjacent to the tow coupling and arranged so as to maintain the direction of a trailer in the event of coupling failure or disconnection. Towbars with a removable towing lug should be fitted with safety chain connections on the non-removable part of the towbar. If the chain connections are on the removable lug then the lug must be restrained by an additional chain to prevent disconnection from the towbar if the lug attachment fails.

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Braking Requirements

The requirement for a 3.5:1 towed mass ratio is intended to give the combination adequate braking without the need for the brakes on the towed vehicle to be operated. The parking brake of the towing vehicle must be able to hold the combination stationary on a 12% gradient, when the combination is on a dry, smooth road surface, free from loose material.

Towing Capacity of Towing Vehicle

The towing limits specified by the vehicle manufacturer must not be exceeded (most manufacturers specify towing limits for their vehicles in the vehicle handbook). The loaded mass of the towed vehicle must not exceed the towing capacity of any component in the combination, including the “A”-frame, towbar, coupling and towball.

Steering Requirements

The vehicle combination must be capable of turning within a 25m diameter circle, measured at the outer wheel track. When travelling in a straight line on a level, smooth surface the towed vehicle must track (follow) in the path of the towing vehicle without deviating off-line by any more than 100mm. It is recommended that the tow-ball or hitch position on the towing vehicle is located as close as practicable to the rear axle. This will reduce any adverse effects of the towed vehicle on the handling characteristics of the combination

Vehicle and Towing Components Manufacturer’s Requirements

Vehicle owners are advised to check with the manufacturer/dealer of the towed vehicle to determine whether it is suitable for “A”-frame towing. Advice given in the “Owner’s Manual” for the towing of the vehicle should always be followed.

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Lighting Requirements

The following lights must be fitted to the rear of the towed vehicle and be operational whilst under tow:

  • one white reverse lamps
  • one registration plate lamp at the rear of the towed vehicle to illuminate the registration plate
  • two amber turn signal lamps
  • two red stop lamps
  • two red rear position (tail) lamps.

These lamps may be the towed vehicle’s own lights or as an alternative be arranged on a portable light bar providing it is properly secured to the rear of the towed vehicle.

Loads in Towed Vehicle

Carrying a load in the towed vehicle is not prohibited. However, it is important to consider the following points:

  • Any load carried in the towed vehicle should be placed as low as possible and placed toward the rear of the vehicle. Loading toward the rear will reduce the load on the front axle, reducing the tendency of the towed vehicle to worsen the handling characteristics of the combination.
  • The loaded mass of the towed vehicle must not exceed its GVM and the capacity of the mechanical connection, including A-frame, coupling and the towbar.
  • The laden mass of the towed vehicle must not exceed the limit set by the 3.5 ratio mentioned previously.

Other Requirements

  • The overall length of the vehicle combination must not exceed 19 metres.
  • Any attachments to the towed vehicle which would constitute a dangerous projection, must be removed from the towed vehicle before it is towed on public roads.
  • The fitting of A-frame attachments on towed vehicle should not adversely affect its ADR compliance, especially occupant protection standards such as ADR 69 and ADR 73. Particular attention should also be paid to any effect on the crush zone and the vehicle’s ANCAP safety rating, if available.
  • No person must ride in the A-frame towed vehicle.
  • In Queensland (as in most other jurisdictions) both the towing and the towed vehicle must be legally registered.
  • For the purpose of A-frame towing, towing more than one vehicle or an additional trailer is prohibited.
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