Can someone please explain to me why so many drivers on our roads towing full-sized caravans or large boats simply refuse to fit extension mirrors to their vehicles?
It absolutely astounds me to see the number of caravanners who, for whatever reason, refuse to have a proper set of towing extension mirrors attached to their vehicles. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s also illegal.
According to Regulation 297 of the Australian Road Rules, “a driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver.” When you stick a whopping great caravan on the back of your tow vehicle that is wider than it, you effectively block that clear view of the road behind and to the side of you and fitting extension mirrors restores much of that essential vision.
To my way of thinking, not fitting extension mirrors is like knowing you’re short-sighted but you refuse to wear glasses. It’s crazy..!
A mate of mine who is a police officer has booked many drivers towing big vans and boats without extension mirrors. He often asks them why they didn’t fit them. By far and away, the most common excuse is that they simply didn’t think they needed them. Some will argue the point until they are blue in the face yet a simple measurement with a tape measure proves why they are wrong.
If you think your standard mirrors are fine, try this simple experiment. Go out to your car, wind down both front windows and, using a tape measure, measure the distance between the outside edge of your external rearview mirrors. If that distance is less than 2.5m wide and you tow a full-size caravan, you need to fit extension mirrors to be legal and safe.
It’s not as though towing mirrors are expensive. Even a good set is cheaper than the fine you’ll get for not having them which, incidentally, is around the $250 mark.
They are not difficult to fit either. We used to have a set of Melenco mirrors and they only required tightening two thumbscrews on each mirror to secure them our car. Far easier than say doing up the safety chains on the tow hitch and no one seems to have an issue with them. So what is the big deal?
To be honest, while I find it mildly annoying when I see a caravanner without extension mirrors, what individuals do is really none of my business. But what really get my nose out of joint is when I see car manufacturers’ advertisements on TV crapping on about how good their vehicle is at towing a caravan but they have no towing mirrors fitted.
And it’s not just car manufacturers that are guilty of this oversight. Do a search on YouTube for tow vehicle reviews and you will be surprised by the number of so-called industry experts who do tow tests with caravans and no towing mirrors.
What hope do we have to convince drivers of the need to fit extension mirrors when the people who should be setting an example don’t do the right thing?
When you spend tens of thousands of dollars on the tow vehicle and caravan, why would you not spend a few dollars on a set of towing mirrors for the additional safety they provide? Whether you think it they are a pain in the neck to fit, they look stupid or you simply can’t be bothered with them, not fitting towing mirrors is just irresponsible.
For your safety and that of other motorists around you, please do the right thing.