This article is to answer the question: do you need towing mirrors for a caravan in Australia?
Not only this, we’ll answer:
Is it illegal to use a reversing or rear view camera when driving forward?
How wide should towing mirrors be?
And… what happens if you leave towing mirrors on when not towing?
We’ll also let you know what are the best caravan towing mirrors in Australia 
Let’s get started:
Do you need caravan towing mirrors in Australia?
Yes, unless your vehicle’s factory fitted mirrors are wider than the caravan and provide a clear view along it’s full length. This is because you must be able to see along the full length of the caravan at it’s widest point and a further 20 m behind it.
What are the legal requirements for towing a caravan in Australia?
Well, here’s a diagram from the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 14/02):
[Yes, it’s a design standard… but that means it’s also the law because all vehicles must comply with it]
Here’s a more colourful version that makes a bit more sense…
… and shows you what happens if you DON’T use tow mirrors:
This means that nearly all car and caravan combinations need towing mirrors. Caravans range between 2.0 m and the max width of 2.5 m. Most cars (including 4WDs) are not this wide.
So how wide should towing mirrors be?
Towing mirrors should be wider than what you’re towing.
“…during an inspection we will open your two front windows and measure to the outside of both side mirrors, and then we measure at the widest point of the trailer, and as long as the measurement at the mirrors is greater than the widest point of the trailer, your’re compliant – it’s as simple as that,”
This is a quote from Sergeant Graeme Shenton, who has been the driving force behind caravan safety inspections:
This is why extendable towing mirrors that are adjustable should be used.
Can’t I just use a camera… or is it illegal to use a reversing or rear view camera when driving forward?
No, you can’t skip the mirrors and just use a camera. You must be able to see along the full length of the caravan at it’s widest point and a further 20 m behind it.
You can supplement this with a reversing or rear view camera when driving forward though because this counts as a driving aid…
…if it’s secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being used.
Reversing Cameras: They’re now less than $20 from eBay!
It must be secured in a mounting. Otherwise the Road Safety Road Rules 2017 – Reg 299 stipulates against television receivers and visual display units in motor vehicles:
A driver must not drive a vehicle that has a television receiver or visual display unit in or on the vehicle operating while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, if any part of the image on the screen
a) is visible to the driver from the normal driving position, or
b) is likely to distract another driver
That being said:
I love rear view cameras. I don’t think I’ll ever drive a car or caravan without one fitted again…
… they’re perfect for hooking up the caravan onto the car, or reversing the caravan
These will now be added to our list: 20 Caravan Gadgets Under $20 [That Make Travelling Australia Easier]
What are the best caravan towing mirrors in Australia?
The best caravan towing mirrors in Australia for 2019 are:
- Drive ‘Easy Fit’ (the best caravan towing mirrors on a budget)
- Clear View / BettaView Towing Mirrors or Adventure Extendable Towing Mirrors (like ClearView… but cheaper with better user ratings), or
- Milenco Aero 3 (the best caravan towing mirrors all round when you consider cost vs. function)
You can read a review of each of them here: The Best Caravan Towing Mirrors in Australia 2019
To answer one last question:
What happens if you leave towing mirrors on or extended when not towing?
You will be fined if you drive around with your extension mirrors fitted (or your ClearView-style mirrors extended). This means when you purchase caravan towing mirrors you need to take into consideration how hard they are to put-on and take-off.
Here’s an example of a conversation in a public Facebook Group:
Summary: You need towing mirrors
Unless you’re driving a REALLY wide car, you need towing mirrors for a caravan
You can’t rely on a rear view or reversing camera, and
Take them off (or collapse them in) when you’re not towing.
You’ll either cop or fine, annoy other drivers, or worse: cause an accident
If you don’t already have some towing mirrors make a commitment to order some today. You can get some decent ones for less than $60 on eBay