Australian A-frame Rules and Regulations
Many people traveling Australia in motorhomes elect to take a second vehicle with them. For 8 years we achieved this by carrying a Mini Moke inside our motorhome. This proved to be a great way of having a second vehicle without the need to tow. However the Moke has its limitations and we have recently decided to forgo the convenience of the Moke in favour or a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
This will not fit inside the motorhome and so it must be towed. We have chosen an A-Frame over a car trailer for a number of reasons. Before going down this track I spent quite a lot of time researching the quite complex rules and regulations that each state enforces regarding A-framing a vehicle.
Below is a table presenting the most important of these regulations for each state. (I could not find any published information of the requirements for Tasmania). Many of the regulations are common sense (like “It must be safe to tow the vehicle” OR “The A-frame must allow for an adequate amount of angular movement between the two vehicles” ) and these have not been included in the table. I strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the complete regulations for each state and check for compliance before towing in that state.
Must display two indicator, two brake, two tail lights and two reversing lights at the rear of the towed vehicle
|Must light the number plate of the towed vehicle||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|May use towed vehicles own lights OR a portable board||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Removable sign with the words “VEHICLE UNDER TOW”||Y||–||–||–||–||–|
|Must operate the towed vehicles brakes if towed vehicle > 2 tonne||Y||–||Y||–||–||–|
|Maximum total length (both vehicles)||19m||19m||19m||19m||19m||19m|
|A-Frame must be marked with manufacturer name and rating.||–||Y||–||Y||Y||Y|
|Must have safety chain(s) fitted
(Size requirement and number of chains differs with weight of vehicle and state)
|A-Frame must be marked with both vehicles VIN number||–||–||–||–||Y||Y|
|Weight ratio – towed vehicle : towing vehicle||none||1:3.5||1:3.5||1:3.5||1:3.5||1:3.5|
|Maximum distance between the two vehicles||4m||2m||–||2m||2m||2m|
|Maximum turning circle diameter||25m||25m||25m||25m||25m||25m|
|Park brake must hold both vehicles on a 12% gradient||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
Minimum stopping distance requirements –
<2.5 tonne 12.5m @35km/h
>2.5 tonne 16.5m @35km/h
Other important information about A-framing in each state
Persons contemplating the use of an A-frame towing device must obtain an engineering certificate from an RTA recognised engineering signatory
“Unless the A-Frame is a proprietary item that has been designed and is appropriately marked as being suitable for the make and model of the towed vehicle, the A-Frames and connecting hardware, including the connection of the A-frame and safety chains to the towed vehicle, must be certified by a VASS Signatory.”
QLD : None
SA : None
Unless the A-Frame is a proprietary item that has been designed and is appropriately marked as being suitable for the make and model of the towed vehicle, the A-Frames and connecting hardware, including the connection of the A-frame and safety chains to the towed vehicle, must be certified by a recognised engineering signatory.
Obtaining the assistance of an Engineering Signatory to confirm that an “A”-frame towing vehicle combination and “A”-frame coupling apparatus meet the requirements of this Information Bulletin is recommended.
This bulletin provides a guide for the individual seeking approval for the simple (un-braked) “A”-frame towing of a small motor vehicle. Persons who wish to tow vehicles equipped with proprietary or individually constructed systems incorporating braking of the towed vehicle will need to seek advice from their respective Road Transport Authority.
Regarding A-framing in other states :
“A-frame towing may not be acceptable in other states or territories. Owners should check directly with the relevant road authority of their state/territories requirement.”
Persons who tow a registered motor vehicle in accordance with this information sheet will be able to tow legally in all States and Territories.
Persons living in other states will need to check with the Road Transport Authority in which their vehicle is registered to determine individual state requirements for the towing of vehicles with “A” frames.
SA : None
NT : None
Persons who tow vehicles in accordance with this bulletin will be able to tow legally in all States and Territories. However, in order to ensure that potential problems with enforcement officers are minimised, it is recommended that a copy of this bulletin, together with any reports, approvals or other documentation, is carried in the vehicle at all times.
While there is some consistency in the regulations and requirements across most states, some requirements vary wildly between states. This of course makes life very difficult for interstate travellers wishing to A-frame a second vehicle as they travel the entire country.
Interestingly some states proclaim that meeting their requirements will allow the setup to be used in all states and territories, while other states do not and recommend seeking approval from each states authority.
Some states require an engineering certificate for the entire A-framing combination (towing vehicle, towed vehicle and all of the connecting hardware and safety chains. To further complicate this requirement, they specify that the engineering certificate must bear the signature of one of their approved engineers.
With the exception of the requirements of some states to have an engineering certificate for the combination, it should not be too difficult to equip and setup a vehicle for legal A-framing in all states.
I suspect that having done this, any issues experienced with enforcement officers would relate to some degree to the mood of the officer encountered on the day.
Have you had an encounter with an enforcement officer in regards to towing with an A-frame? If so we would all like to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment in the “leave a reply” box below.
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Thanks and happy Motorhoming and Caravanning - Gavin & Tracey.