The Singleton Argus

A guide to towing regulations in Victoria: What you need to know

Do you know the regulations around towing a vehicle? Picture Shutterstock
Do you know the regulations around towing a vehicle? Picture Shutterstock

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Towing a broken down vehicle in Victoria is not as straightforward as simply hooking up the car and driving away. There are specific regulations, safety standards, and pitfalls to be aware of, especially when dealing with unauthorised towing companies.

This guide is designed to help Victorians understand these nuances to ensure safe, compliant towing practices. We'll also give you advice on how to select the right towing company in Melbourne.

Understanding vehicle towing capacities and regulations

First and foremost, it is vital to know the towing capacity of the tow vehicle. This information is typically found in the vehicle's handbook and includes the maximum weight your vehicle can safely tow. Exceeding this limit can severely compromise your vehicle's handling and braking, leading to dangerous situations.

When it comes to towing a broken down vehicle, ensure that the tow truck used is appropriately equipped and rated for the task. This includes having a proper tow bar and couplings that meet the Australian Standards (AS4177).

The importance of using authorised towing services

One of the most significant risks in towing broken down vehicles is the temptation to use unauthorised towing services. These operators often do not adhere to the stringent standards set by authorities and may lack the proper insurance, leaving you vulnerable in several ways:

  • Legal liability: If an unauthorised tow truck causes further damage to your vehicle or is involved in an accident, you might find yourself liable for damages and without recourse to proper compensation.
  • Safety risks: Unauthorised tow services might use improper equipment or methods, increasing the risk of damage to your vehicle and danger to road users.
  • Cost scams: Some unauthorised tow companies can exploit situations, charging exorbitant fees that are significantly above the market rate, often demanding payment in ways that avoid accountability.

Safety measures and equipment

For towing broken down vehicles, the correct use of safety chains and brakes is mandatory. Trailers with a Gross Trailer Mass over 750 kilograms must have brakes, and those over 2,000 kilograms require a breakaway brake system. Ensuring these are in place and functioning can prevent a runaway trailer if the coupling fails.

Visibility is crucial. Make sure that the tow truck driver has clear visibility to all sides of the towed vehicle. If the broken down vehicle obstructs the tow truck's mirrors, additional external mirrors should be fitted.

Legal requirements for towing in Victoria

It is essential to ensure that both the tow truck and the broken down vehicle are correctly registered and insured. In Victoria, towing another vehicle without the proper registration or permits is illegal and can result in fines and points against your driver's licence.

For those towing vehicles, a standard car licence is generally sufficient, but for larger or heavier loads, a more specific type of licence might be required, such as a light or medium rigid licence.

Choosing the right towing company

When selecting a Melbourne towing company, it's critical to choose one that is authorised and reputable. Check that they have:

  • Proper licensing and insurance
  • A good track record of safety and customer service
  • Transparent pricing structures to avoid hidden charges

Always ask for recommendations or look up reviews online to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable service provider.

Preparing for the unexpected

Always be prepared for unforeseen events when towing. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items like a first aid kit, torch, and necessary tools. Ensure your mobile phone is charged in case you need to call for further assistance.

Towing a broken down vehicle in Victoria should always be handled with care and adherence to regulations. By understanding the rules and the risks associated with unauthorised towing companies, you can protect yourself from unnecessary costs and safety hazards. Always choose authorised, reputable towing services to ensure your peace of mind during the stressful situation of having a broken down vehicle.