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The State of Australian Vehicle Safety

For Australians who operate a transportation company, safety is one of the most important factors when researching and buying a new trailer to add to their fleet. When people think of what makes a “good” trailer, three things generally come to mind: Strength, reliability and versatility. This is a great starting point, but to design and build a “great” trailer, manufacturers need to place a high priority on optimised performance and safety.

What is Australian Design Rules?

The idea behind the Australian Design Rules is to make a vehicle to a minimum standard. To ensure safety in trailer design and compatibility with the road and bridge network, there are an enormous number of state and federal rules and regulations which need to be followed when a trailer is designed, engineered and manufactured. Central to these are the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) which are designed to be the nation-wide standards for vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions.

The standards are in place to protect the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users and generally are prescriptive-based and cover issues such as braking requirements depending on the vehicle, engine exhaust emissions, noise, structure and dimensions of the vehicle, occupant protection as well as a range of miscellaneous items.

The ADR’s are upheld by the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 which makes it “an offence to import, sell or present new or used imported vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless they meet the National Standards”. There is an exception to this law, but must be granted by the Administrator of Vehicle Standards. Any vehicle manufacturer, whether trailer, truck or car, not complying with the Australian Design Rules will face large fines, time off-road or out of business, and at its worst, can result in injury or fatality.

Common Australian Design Rules for Trailers

There are a number of ADR’s that apply to trailer wheels and tyres, axles, length, braking, drawbars, safety chains, electrical wiring, lamps, lighting, dimension and structural requirements. Here are some of the more well-known rules.

  • Indicator direction lamps (turn signals) must be present
  • Retro reflectors for front, rear and side must be fitted, but non-triangular only
  • Electrical wiring must be supported at intervals of not more than 600 mm along its length and must be insulated at joints. It can also not be in a position where it becomes overheated or at risk of chafing and must have an earth return wire between the trailer and hauling vehicle
  • All trailers that exceed 4.5 tonnes must be fitted with an efficient braking system that conforms to a separate set of standards
  • Wheels must be fitted with mudguards to protect other road users from stones, mud, snow and water
  • Trailers can have axles at one or two locations. If two axle groups are required, the forwardmost axle group must be steerable by the drawbar
  • Numerous dimensional requirements including unless the trailer is a semi-trailer, it must not exceed 12.5 metres
  • No trailer should be hazardous to other road users. I.e. no sharp edges or projections

What does the Australian Design Rules mean for The Drake Group customers?

Safety is at the heart of what we do here at The Drake Group. As a leading provider of innovative, durable and user-friendly trailers for heavy duty applications, The Drake Group ensure our products, as well as our recommendations, adhere to all relevant Australian legislation and safety standards. Using Australian design, the best materials and local craftsmanship, we create reliable, long-lasting and customisable trailers with great resale value.

For all your trailer needs, get in contact with The Drake Group today.

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