Trailer Breakaway System Maintenance

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According to ADR 38/02: Every trailer having a ‘Gross Trailer Mass’ over 2 tonnes must be equipped with an efficient ‘Emergency Brake System’ which will cause immediate automatic application of its ‘Brakes’ in the event of the trailer accidentally becoming disconnected from the drawing vehicle. ‘Brakes’ so applied must remain applied for at least 15 minutes.

In addition to this rule, some states (ACT and Victoria) also require that the brakes must hold the trailer stationary on a 12% gradient for this specified amount of time. In New South Wales, there is an additional requirement that the charge condition of the trailers on board breakaway system battery can be monitored from within the towing vehicle, as well as be charged whilst travelling by the tow vehicle. As this is a State based regulation, this is only applicable to trailers being registered in NSW.

A number of inspections carried out recently on several older model caravans has proven that many of these vehicles no longer have a fully functional breakaway system. If for some unforeseen reason the trailer detaches completely from the tow vehicle, the SAFETY of the occupants of the tow vehicle and other road users, is relying completely on this breakaway system functioning correctly. Simply pressing the “TEST” button on the Breakaway Unit is not an adequate test of this system.