At Elecbrakes, we love to tow. It’s this love of towing that led to us develop a revolutionary electric brake controller to make towing easier for all Australians. As part of our commitment to the towing community, we also want to help make sure that every trip with your trailer or caravan in tow is a safe and legal one.
- Read more about Elecbrakes: 10 Reasons Why Elecbrakes Is The Best Electric Brake Controller In Australia
Due to the complex nature of towing, licensing and road rules across Australia’s states and territories, we know it can be easier said than done to source the information you need about towing regulations. That’s why we’ve launched this new blog series, aimed at providing useful information for novice and experienced towers alike.
Disclaimer: While we have strived to provide the most accurate and up to date information possible, towing regulations are complex and constantly evolving. Elecbrakes urges all towers to check any legal requirements with local government authorities and doesn’t accept liability for any unintentional errors or omissions in the following article.
What Is The Speed Limit For Towing A Trailer?
While speed restrictions are simple enough when driving unhitched, once you’re towing things get a little more complicated. At the bare minimum, you should be able to drive at 80 km/h in any state or territory in Australia in an appropriate tow vehicle. Above that, you need to take into account the regulations of your state and also the recommendation of your vehicle manufacturer.
So how fast can you go towing a trailer? At the time of writing, the states and territories still don’t have uniform laws in regards to maximum speed limits while towing. These are the current towing speed limits across Australia:
- NSW: In NSW, you’re allowed to drive the full 110 km/h, but the combined weight of your vehicle and trailer/caravan must not exceed 4,500kg. If your rig exceed the weight limit, you’re restricted to 100 km/h.
- WA: In WA you’re only allowed to drive at a maximum speed of 100 km/h while towing, regardless of weight.
- Tasmania: You can drive at the maximum posted speed limit on any given road, so long as your GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) does not exceed 12 tonnes.
- QLD, VIC, ACT, SA & NT: All remaining states stipulate that towers drive to the prevailing conditions, but do not enforce a separate towing speed limit.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Towing A Caravan?
This question is hard to provide a single answer for due to the variety of insurance providers and plans available. Make sure to contact your insurer before hitting the road to make sure you’re covered. Many comprehensive car insurance policies do cover trailers, but generally only for third party damage or injury and often not for damage to the trailer itself.
In insurance policies where your trailer is covered for third party liability, this cover is often only active while the trailer is hitched to your tow vehicle. This means that if your trailer became unhitched and caused damage to another vehicle you may not be covered.
Do you need insurance to tow a caravan? You’re not required to have trailer insurance in the same way that you need to have CTP for your tow vehicle. But it’s probably a good idea.
Are You Allowed To Tow With A Rental Car?
The short answer in most cases is no. You’re generally not allowed to tow a trailer or caravan with a rental car. Can you tow a trailer with a rental truck? In some cases yes. There are a small number of truck hire companies which allow towing with their rental vehicles.
Can You Tow A Trailer Behind A Trailer?
In nearly all cases double towing is not permitted in Australia. This is because most tow vehicles are not equipped to handle the duress of towing multiple trailers and this creates a much greater likelihood that you may lose control of the rig. In some states or territories, this may be allowed under specific conditions but where applicable the driver would need to have a multi-combination registration.
Do I Need Towing Mirrors?
Are towing mirrors a legal requirement in Australia? Yes. This is covered in the relevant ADR, Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 14/02 – Rear Vision Mirrors) 2006. This regulation stipulates the minimum field of vision that your side mirrors are required to provide. The exact details of this specification become quite complex and involve mathematical equations, but the basic rule of thumb is that you must have a clear view of the road behind and to each side of the driver.
The penalty for not complying with this ADR can be significant. For example in Victoria, failure to comply with this rule will set you back $233.
Towing on Different Licences
If you’re a teenager interested in towing, you may have already asked yourself “what license do I need to tow a caravan?”. As a young red or green P-plater, you may not be considering purchasing your own trailer or caravan any time soon. But for plenty of family’s, the question of who is allowed to drive on a long road trip is an important one to answer. Likewise, any business owner with work trailers needs to know – “can you tow a trailer on your Ps?”.
Can A Learner Driver Tow A Trailer?
Like many rules or regulations in the world of towing, the answer to the question “are learner drivers allowed to tow a trailer?” is – it depends. See the following break down for the differing rules in each state or territory:
- New South Wales: No. Learner drivers are not allowed to tow anything.
- Victoria: No. No towing allowed for L-platers in VIC either.
- Queensland: Yes. You CAN tow on your learner’s permit in QLD.
- Western Australia: Yes. You can also tow on your L-plates in WA.
- South Australia: Yes. SA doesn’t restrict learner’s permit holders from towing.
- Tasmania: No. Tasmania has two levels of L plates, L1 and L2. Neither are allowed to tow.
- Australian Capital Territory: Kind of. Yes, as long as the trailer weight does not exceed 750kg GVM.
- Northern Territory: Yes. Learner’s permit holders may tow in the NT.
Can P1 Drivers Tow Trailers?
Can a red P-plater tow a trailer or caravan? In some cases yes, in some cases no:
- New South Wales: Yes. Except you cannot tow another vehicle with an unladen mass of more than 250kg in NSW.
- Victoria: No. You cannot tow on your P1 license in VIC. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if your boss asks you to tow as part of your employment.
- Queensland: Yes. You may tow on your P-plates in QLD.
- Western Australia: Yes. P1 drivers are able to tow in WA.
- South Australia: Yes. You can tow trailers unrestricted on red P-plates in SA.
- Tasmania: Yes. You can tow as a P1 driver in Tasmania.
- Australian Capital Territory: Kind of. Within the first 12 months of holding a provisional license, you must not tow a trailer with a GVM above 750kg in the ACT.
- Northern Territory: Yes. Towing is allowed on P-plates in the NT.
Can I Tow A Trailer On Green P Plates?
Can a P2 driver tow a trailer? Here are the regulations in each state and territory:
- New South Wales: Yes. You may tow on your green P-plates in NSW.
- Victoria: Yes. You can also tow on your green P-plates in Victoria.
- Queensland: Yes. You may tow on your P-plates in QLD.
- Western Australia: Yes. P2 drivers are able to tow in WA.
- South Australia: Yes. You can tow trailers unrestricted on green P-plates in SA.
- Tasmania: Yes. You can tow as a P2 driver in Tasmania.
- Australian Capital Territory: Kind of. There is only one provisional license stage in the ACT. Within the first 12 months of holding a provisional license, you must not tow a trailer with a GVM above 750kg.
- Northern Territory: Yes. There is only one provisional license stage in the NT as well and you are allowed to tow while on this P-plate.
Further Towing Resources By State Or Territory
- WA: Department of Transport – Towing, Trailers, Tilt-Trays and Caravans
- QLD: Queensland Government – Towing Vehicles and Trailers
- NSW: Roads and Maritime Services – Towing – Safety & Rules
- VIC: Vic Roads – Safe Caravanning
- SA: My Licence – Driver’s Handbook – Towing and Loads
- TAS: Tasmanian Government – Requirements For Light Trailers
- NT: Northern Territory Government – Towing and A-Frames
- ACT: Access Canberra – Trailer And Caravan Registration