Laws and Legislations Regarding Safe Caravanning and Trailer Towing
Towards the end of 2015, the Victorian Government made some changes to the laws and legislations around the safe towing of caravans. Let’s take a closer look at some of these changes.
The “D” Shackles on Safety Chains
When you’re towing a trailer or caravan, it’s crucial to have measures in place to prevent the towed vehicle separating from your car. The tow coupling is the standard, but you’re also required to have a safety connection device in place to act as a backup if the tow coupling somehow fails and it either breaks or the caravan or trailer detaches from your car. This essential plan B can be anything like a metal chain or a cable and is connected to the towing car with a part called a D shackle.
In the past, the D shackle did not have to be load rated; the weight of the load it was responsible for did not have to be regulated. It simply needed to connect the towed vehicle to the towing vehicle, much like how a ligament connects muscle to muscle. But the D shackle now has to be capable of safely carrying the particular load capacity it has been designed for. For example, a D shackle that meets Australian Standard 2741-2002 is capable of securing safety chains up to a 3500kg capacity. If you are unsure as to whether your D shackle is suitable for your safety chain, consult a towbar specialist like Fivestar Towbars.
Braked and Unbraked Towing Capacities
If a person intends to tow a caravan or trailer on the back of their vehicle, they must be aware of their vehicle’s towing capacity. They will either have what is called a Braked Towing Capacity, which indicates the weight a vehicle is capable of towing with trailer brakes applied, or an Unbraked Towing Capacity, which is the maximum towing ability of a vehicle towing a trailer without its own braking system. The Braked Towing Capacity is most common for caravan enthusiasts, as the unbraked figure cannot exceed the legal limit of 750kg – a weight that is significantly less than a standard caravan.
Australian law requires that any trailer or caravan that exceeds the 750kg weight must be fitted with electric brakes and therefore require brake controllers. Brake controllers are installed in the towing vehicle and enable the brakes on the trailer or caravan to work. They are connected to the brake lights in your car, and as you slow down or stop suddenly, they communicate to the brakes on the caravan or trailer that it must also slow down or stop as well. Without brake controllers, whatever you are towing can collide with the back of your car.
If you’d like to make sure your brake controllers are connected correctly, or if you have any concerns or queries about your towing capacity, it’s important to get these issues resolved before you take to the open roads. Contact FiveStar Towbars today for expert advice and assistance.