National Trailer Towing Limits

The battle to get a nationwide acceptance of uniform glider trailer overhang limits continues but meanwhile some important changes have been made regarding towed mass and speed limits wherein we find that we all now live in the same country instead of 6 landlocked islands and one real one.

In a news release of December 1998, it was announced that all states would introduce uniform legislation regarding mass and speed limits of trailers early in 1999.

As applied to vehicles not exceeding 4.5 tonnes, these are:

  1. The trailer mass shall not exceed the capacity of the towing apparatus fitted to the towing vehicle; or
  2. A relevant trailer mass specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

If the motor vehicle manufacturer has not specified a maximum trailer mass or the limit cannot be identified the following shall apply:

  1. The Trailer mass including any load shall not exceed one and one half times the unladen mass of the motor vehicle if the trailer is equipped with brakes; or
  2. The Trailer mass including any load shall not exceed the mass of the unladen motor vehicle if the trailer is not equipped with brakes.

People who tow glider trailers should establish from the manufacturer of their car what the limits are and not rely on folklore. The limits vary from model to model and you may find that what applies to an automatic transmission vehicle may not be the same for a manual transmission version of the same vehicle. You should also establish what the allowable drawbar vertical load at the towbar ball is allowed to be in addition to the all up towed mass as this may have important implications for the stability of the combination.

In addition, speed limits shall be as posted on the roads, the arbitary maximum of 80Km/hr in some states is to be discarded. You should be careful about the stability of the combination however before adopting higher speeds than you are used to and some clubs may still require you to keep the speed down particularly with poorly braked trailers.

As at the end of February 1999 Tasmania had adopted the above and legislated for it.

Click here for a copy of the Victorian Gazetted glider trailer approval

J. Ashford

Other information [ext]

Queensland Trailer Rules - June 2011 [ext]