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Spring is here in full bloom and as the temperature rises so too does the appeal to hit the road and explore the great outdoors.

Before you hitch up the caravan and head for the road there are some laws you should be aware of relating to Breakaway Systems.

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It is a legal requirement in all states of Australia that caravans over two tonnes GMT (gross trailer mass) are fitted with a caravan break away system.

What’s a Breakaway System?

A Breakaway system is a system fitted to your trailer or caravan. In the event the caravan or trailer detaches from the car, the system will apply electrical breaks to the runaway trailer. This will stop your caravan preventing an accident.

The Breakaway system is powered by a rechargeable battery which is charged via an Auxiliary power wire that runs from the tow vehicle and connected to the trailer plug.

Breakaway Systems and the Law 

The Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development states that:

  • Every trailer over two tonnes GTM must have brakes operating on all wheels.
  • The brake system must cause an immediate application of the trailer brakes in the event of the trailer becoming detached from the towing vehicle.
  • Under these circumstances, the brakes must remain applied for at least 15 minutes.

In addition to these statewide laws, New South Wales have additional legal requirements relating to the charging of the breakaway system battery.

NSW Roads & Maritime Vehicle Inspection Bulletin stipulates:

  • It will be satisfactory if any trailer mounted battery is constantly charged by the towing vehicle and a warning device is fitted to warn the driver (from a normal driving position) if the trailer battery charge falls to such a level as to render the trailer brakes incapable of meeting the requirements.
  • Trailers required to be fitted with caravan breakaway systems are not registrable if there is now means for maintaining the breakaway energy source in a fully energised condition. (E.G. If a charging and warning circuit is not fitted.)
  • An acceptable warning circuit must incorporate either a visual or an audible warning device.

The NSW ruling only applies to caravans registered in NSW and not to interstate visitors towing recreational vehicles registered in another state. In all other states of Australia, there are no specific requirements as to how your battery for your breakaway system is charged.


At Accelerate we fit and repair all breakaway systems to adhere to current laws. If you’re unsure if your caravan/trailer breakaway system is up to legal standards feel free to give us a call on 1330 car elec.

For the latest up to date information relating to Queensland’s laws on towing be sure to check their website – http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/safety/vehicle-standards-and-modifications/loads-and-towing/safe-towing.aspx 

breakaway units and breakaway systems and the law