Are you wondering whether or not caravan mirrors are a legal requirement? While RVs are a wonderful way to explore our country, it’s vital that you understand all of the legal requirements before heading off on your first adventure.
In this article, we'll dive deep into this question to give you all the info you need. Let’s get started!
Are caravan mirrors a legal requirement?
In Australia, it is a legal requirement to have towing mirrors unless the vehicle used for towing has already been factory fitted with mirrors that are wider than the caravan and which also provide a clear view along the full length of the caravan in tow.
In practice, there are very few vehicles out there which have mirrors wider than the caravan that they tow. You can almost certainly forget about this exception and presume that you’ll need to get some towing mirrors.
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that a person in the driver’s seat is able to see along the entire length of the caravan plus an additional 20 meters behind it.
The full details of this requirement is in the legislative instrument referred to as the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 14/02 – Rear Vision Mirrors) 2006.
Why driving without mirrors is dangerous
Without towing mirrors, a driver would not be able to see the full length of a caravan or trailer in tow. This creates a blind spot that can be dangerous for the towing vehicle and to other road users.
The front edge of your caravan is going to block the view of your mirror and you won’t be able to see if any vehicles are close to the rear edge of your caravan. No matter how you position your mirrors, you won’t get a clear view as they simply won’t be wide enough.
How is this rule enforced?
When police inspect towing vehicles and caravans, they first check whether towing mirrors have been installed. If no, they measure the distance between the outside of your two regular mirrors (measured with the front windows down), and then measure the width of your caravan at its widest point.
If the width between the two mirrors is greater than the width of the caravan - you are fine! Your vehicle is deemed in compliance with law. This applies to anything that is being towed, including camper trailers.
It’s easy to do this same check at home (you just need a tape measure!), so why not try it yourself? If you can’t be sure that your mirrors are wider than your van, pick up some towing mirrors and then you’ll be sure that you are in full compliance with the law.
You’ll also have peace of mind when changing lanes, moving your caravan or reversing. You’ll be able to do all of these activities with more confidence and safety.
Can I use a reversing camera instead?
Reverse cameras are not acceptable as a replacement for caravan mirrors. This is because of the requirement for the driver to be able to see along the full length of the caravan or RV.
So even though reverse cameras allow a driver to see behind the caravan, there is still the blind spot along the side due the inability to see down the full length of the caravan and a further 20 meters behind it.
Unfortunately, this means that reverse cameras are not an alternative for complying with the law. While they are a great additional safety feature, they aren’t so useful when changing lanes. You’ll need the mirrors for more than just reversing.
Can I keep towing mirrors on when not towing?
It’s important to know that when a vehicle is not towing anything, it is a requirement that the caravan mirrors be removed. If they are still attached to the vehicle without anything in tow, the driver can be fined.
The fact that they protrude so far from the edge of the vehicle is a hazard when not towing an RV, so make sure to remove them.
In reality, they are hard to forget and people will only usually leave them on if they are particularly difficult to remove. For this reason, it’s a great idea to look for mirrors that are easy to put on and take off. If they are difficult to install then it’ll make your life much more difficult if you need to keep taking them on and off all the time.
There are a few clever ways around this that you’ll see with high-quality caravan mirrors. Some can be slid back in, or fold in, so they no longer protrude over your regular mirrors. Others have a screw in place that allows you to take off the mirror itself but leave the base of the unit in place.
It can feel like a bit of a hassle but the laws are in place for a reason. It can be tempting to head out on your RV without those extra mirrors but the risk is too high. Not only is there a high risk of being fined but you’re also going to be risking your own life and the lives of others that use our roads.
Do the right thing and get some caravan mirrors.
Unless you have a particularly wide car with wide mirrors, you’ll have to buy towing mirrors before heading out with your RV.
You’ll also need to take them off when you’re not towing, so make sure you get ones that are easy to remove. The law is clear so don’t take any chances.
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Note that while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, there may sometimes be errors. Check all specifications with the manufacturer before purchasing any product.