Illegal to tow

Submitted: Friday, Aug 15, 2014 at 23:55
ThreadID: 109153 Views:5834 Replies:18 FollowUps:16
This Thread has been Archived
Coming back along the beach on Fraser Island after a great day, saw a young couple in obvious trouble with their rental Series 2 Land Rover - same vintage (but automatic) as my friend who was with me. Stopped and after a few checks of the obvious, realized the auto was shot. Tide on rise, I offered to tow, but couldn't find my hitch receiver pin, so my friend attached his snatch strap to my equalizer strap, and (with the towed car motor running to maintain power steering), towed them about 14 km back to Eurong Beach Resort. I traveled behind and had my warning indicators flashing to alert traffic from behind, as we were in a convoy doing 25-30 kph, (didn't want to overheat auto transmission fluid).
Got back safely, only to be greeted by the resident police officer's wife, who informed us that what we did was illegal, and both the drivers could face a stiff fine!
Nowhere in any literature supplied or on any beach sign posts or on the ferry coming over is there any warning re. Towing.
Rental car companies supplying 4wd to Fraser Island tourists should warn clients, and it would be helpful if entrances onto the beach had a warning sign.
Apparently you should assist a bogged or disabled vehicle only to above the expected high tide line, and then offer to take the person in need to a telephone or take a message to the police. The disabled car should not be towed.
We all got off with a stern warning.
Only mention we could find in any stuff re. Fraser Island, suggested it was almost essential to carry a snatch strap - but nothing about the illegality of towing with one, ( was told this was main issue and may have been overlooked if a proper tow rope had been used)
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Batt's - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 02:18

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 02:18
How far did she see you towing the other car. Normally you would need a metal tow bar or draw bar for that purpose but considering you helped someone on a beach it shouldn't hurt all they would be worried about is the local towie missing out. I've towed 4 vehicles off road that were broken down various distances it's just bad timing if you get caught. Next time get the 3rd vehicle to drive in front to keep an eye out.
AnswerID: 537741

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 03:30

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 03:30
I think it is illegal to tow anywhere in Australia these days.

OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 537743

Reply By: Slow one - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 05:30

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 05:30
Maybe she wears the pants in the police station.

Her is the answer you can give her.

Towing a vehicle with a rope
AnswerID: 537744

Reply By: steved58 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:06

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:06
I think the problem is towing with a snagch strap as apposed to a conventional tow rope
Cheere steve
AnswerID: 537745

Follow Up By: Geoffr17 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:18

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:18
Maybe some company has the "official" towing rights in this area ,maybe arranged by certain people who live there ??.
FollowupID: 821979

Reply By: mikehzz - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:28

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:28
Normal road rules apply on Fraser don't they? Did you have a white or brightly coloured cloth attached to the tow rope? Mate, subsection (5) is super important....

"The driver of a motor vehicle towing another vehicle using a chain, rope, fabric, strap or wire (the towline) must comply with this section.
Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
If neither of the vehicles is a motorbike, the driver must keep a distance of not over 4m between the vehicles.
If at least 1 of the vehicles is a motorbike, the driver must keep a distance of not over 2.5m between the vehicles.
If the towline is longer than 2m, the driver must attach a white or brightly coloured flag, piece of cloth or other similar material (the warning material) to the towline in accordance
with subsection (5).
The warning material must—
(a) be substantially square or rectangular with 2 adjacent sides at least 300mm long; and
(b) be attached midway along the towline; and
(c) be visible for at least 100m from either side of the warning material.
If the driver is towing at night, the driver must ensure the warning material is lit by a light attached to 1 of the vehicles."

If there are exceptions for Fraser then they should be advertised
AnswerID: 537746

Reply By: wholehog- Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:33

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:33
"Got back safely, only to be greeted by the resident police officer's wife, who informed us that what we did was illegal, and both the drivers could face a stiff fine!"

How would she have known of the event occurring...and then be at the arrival to issue an opinion..?...and if we are aware of the full story verses facts..hers is an opinion only.

AnswerID: 537747

Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:43

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 08:43
"Queensland Road Rules (216, 294 and 295)"

By the OP description the car in question broke down on the beach.
Is the beach on Fraser Island considered a public road???

"the local coppers wife"?????? WOW, hate to meet the local copper.

One of my BIL's was a copper. I'm pretty sure the wife's sister didn't get involved in traffic rule enforcement. Then again maybe she knew her copper husband and thought that fore warned is fore armed.

AnswerID: 537748

Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:12

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:12
Just a small clarification
YES Fraser beach is considered a public road as I recall
FollowupID: 821984

Reply By: garrycol - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:22

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:22
A series 2 land rover being a late 50s to late 60s vehicle would not have been a rental vehicle, likewise they did not come with automatics.

So there was the start of the problem - no wonder you could not get the auto to work. :-)

Technically the wollopers wife is correct - you can no longer tow with a rope or its equivalent and Fraser is gazetted as a road so road rules apply - however common sense has to apply.

Would have been a Landrover Discovery 2 not and Landrover Series 2 you helped - there is 40 years between them.

AnswerID: 537749

Reply By: Bludge - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:50

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 09:50

The Cops wife is correct. She didn't make the rules.
It's basically illegal to tow any vehicle with the road rules Australia wide.
As this is in the road rules there is no obligation to put signage up (anywhere).
If they put up a sign for every road rule that drivers didn't know, would they read them? Would they obey them or just complain about them?

The 2.5mtr distance is the killer, that is half the length of a 4WD.
"3. If at least 1 of the vehicles is a motorbike, the driver must keep a distance of not over 2.5m between the vehicles.." The markers for the tow rope over 2mtrs.
This is why everything is put on a flatbed tow truck, gone are the days of the RACQ towing you to the local workshop.

This means the only way to tow correctly and within the law is with a solid bar or "A" frame.

Towing is very different to recovery.

Its great that you assisted a fellow traveller, but in my opinion and especially as it was a hire car, why not get it above the high water mark and let the hire company recover it?. They have got to come and get it anyway. Then just take the people back and not the vehicle, less strain on your vehicle especially with a 14 km tow and a lot quicker.

AFAIK Series 2 Landy never had auto or power steering.

If the Policeman's wife knew about it, its possible she may have been told by some concerned local or traveller who saw what was happening. If she was going to be a bitch she would have told here husband and got you fined.
AnswerID: 537750

Follow Up By: disco driver - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 10:36

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 10:36
There were plenty of Series Landrovers converted to take either a Holden 179/186/202 motor with an auto box and still retain the H/L and 4WD.
At least in WA there were.


FollowupID: 821987

Follow Up By: Slow one - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 10:56

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 10:56
Might pay to re read the rules. The distance is no more than 4 metres between the vehicles with a bright marker in the centre of the tow rope.

FollowupID: 821990

Follow Up By: garrycol - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:28

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:28
Yes - disco converted but not original
FollowupID: 821992

Follow Up By: Bludge - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 12:23

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 12:23

Many got converted, but how many are 50 year old hire vehicles?

Slow one.

Slipped with my "cut n paste" 4mtrs is still less than a cars length and no where near the 9 mtrs of the average snatch strap
FollowupID: 821994

Follow Up By: Bludge - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 13:09

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 13:09
Slow One
Yes I said basically illegal, I accept that the rules say its not but I will stick with that, as sitting "not over 4mtrs" off a tow vehicle for many kms is dangerous, even at slow speeds relying on the person being towed not to hit you. Bad enough on road but on Fraser!

So a rope is fine, less than 4 mtrs OK, warning flags on rope ok.
The secondary parts that we seem to ignore is.
Causing an obstruction?
Driving with hazard lights on is illegal, you also can't indicate with hazards either.
Can the tow vehicle legally tow the weight of the broken one?
That is without do I trust the person who I am towing?

So like I said, I accept that its not illegal to use a rope, but add all the other items, it become so hard, its basically illegal to tow..

So people like the RACQ suggest

Towing a car with a tow-rope, often as a means of recovering a broken down vehicle, was reasonably common in years past.

It’s still legal, subject to complying with the relevant road rules and regulations, but it’s not something we generally recommend.

Exceptions might be moving vehicles a very short distance at low speed, either for safety reasons or where restricted access (such as some car-parks) means other preferred towing options can’t be immediately or easily employed.
FollowupID: 821996

Reply By: olcoolone - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:09

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:09
What everone has to undersatand is most of these laws are in place to protect the most stupid human and the innocent...... Fraser Island may be one of these places where every tourist is an expert at everything and these so called experts who think they know everything causes more paid resources, injuries and damage then one may think.

You may find they have had 20 accidents involving this very same thing in the last 6 months so they might be comming down hard on people doing it.

For all you know the local cops wife; like some remote partners are legally binding assistants in the up holding of laws with limited powers.

I don't think she has done anything wrong and why didn't you go the 14 kilometers and ask for help?

The days of thinking your doing the right thing, helping someone out and being a mate in the Aussie way has far gone...... With the chances of illegal activities and liability the cheapest and best way of helping is to offer passing a message on at the next town.

That way you can be assured it will have less of a fiancial impact and limited liability on your day.

And before someone says..... "What about first aid and assistance".

Under law you are protected against prosecution, financial hardship and liability if first aid was administered in good faith.

AnswerID: 537754

Follow Up By: Slow one - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 13:48

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 13:48
Yep and the sun could rise in the west tomorrow, lot of maybes in there I see.

Again it is legal Full Stop

When they change the law I will obey it, until then I will tow as I see fit and if that means towing someone 14K I will, after assessing the risk.

FollowupID: 821997

Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 00:43

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 00:43
By the way the sun never actually rises lol
FollowupID: 822022

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 11:53

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 11:53
Read my post 5 times and still can not find the "lots of maybes in there".

Maybe you are reading it wrong!

Didn't say anything about it being legal or illegal and like most things in law; you can be doing something legal but if not done to the law then it becomes illegal......

I can have a gun in my car as long as it is secured and hidden whilst away from the vehicle but I can not have a gun secured and in view nor can I have it hidden and unsecured.

Very few people know the law inside out but it seems many think they do.

There was a guy who got done for reversing his car to far, the cop said 30-35m whereby the law states a maximum of 25m, he took it to court and won...... I didn't even know this law existed until this morning.
FollowupID: 822045

Reply By: 1952 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 14:16

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 14:16
Thanks for all the responses - I was really just wanting to give a heads up to the many 4WDers who may travel to the beautiful and unique Fraser Island.
As the sharp-eyed pedantic readers have said, the vehicle involved was a LR Discovery - my friends is 11 years old and has turned over 200,000 km.
Also, just to be clear, I was NOT wanting to criticise the woman who spoke to us when we got back. She works in one of the stores and had a good view of us coming in from the beach, and all she did was point out the facts. We knew that the beach is a designated road, but had forgotten the strict requirements re. using and marking a tow 'rope' - our failure, not hers.
I don't want to cause any unintended repercussions for her or her husband, but the next day she told me her husband had observed our towing on the beach because he was off-duty and fishing with the police commissioner [!!] who asked him what he was going to do about it. The Police Officer said, he would easily be able to trace us the next day and he would issue an infringement notice to us then. His wife, that night, had explained to him that she had already spoken with us and asked him not to do anything more. So she saved my friend and the tourist a fine. I have good will towards her, not anger!
If we had not felt the tourist couple were in a pressure situation and without any idea how long help would take to arrive, but feeling it would be a number of hours at the least, then perhaps we would have just taken a message to pass on to the Hervey Bay rental company. We had no mobile phone coverage to make calls ourselves and our vehicles were packed in such a manner as prevented us offering to just drive them back to Eurong. Another source of anxiety about just leaving them, was the fact we had just passed a sign about an aggressive dingo in the area, and we felt that it would have been dark before any other help could have got back to them. To be clear, it was our ignorance that caused us to act as we did, and even though our motive was good, what we ended up doing was illegal. Lesson learnt.
p.s. we saw the couple the next day at Lake McKenzie in the replacement LR Discovery that the rental company had sent promptly, so their holiday was not spoiled.
AnswerID: 537762

Follow Up By: wizzer73 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 17:29

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 17:29
You are lucky to be let off from what we hear about qld cops. It made the news over here in WA a few months back that a motorcyclist has fined for strecthing his leg on a motorcycle
and someone left a window down and copped a fine!


FollowupID: 822009

Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 01:15

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 01:15
I don't think you can just pin point QLD cops for not being very lenient it depends on the individual and the circumstance. When I lived in W.A I got fined for 6k's over the speed limit but have also had another cop just flash me for doing 10k's over I have never been fined for 6k's over in QLD. It's not an isolated case just one the madia decided to run with the bike thing is happening everywhere and they seem to be targeting a lot of average bike riders regardless of what your riding or whether you look like you belong to a gang or not it's just a load of political crap. The cops are under pressure to hassle and search and hand out petty fines to bike riders but years ago when they and their union had balls they would have put pressure back on the pollies to stop making them look like asses in the eye of the public.
FollowupID: 822024

Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:14

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:14
Looks like we had better check whether the track we are on is a gazzetted road or not before we attach the Snatch Strap to the front of old mate's bogged 4WD.
AnswerID: 537765

Follow Up By: Slow one - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:46

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:46
I do the self test. I say to my self should I sit in the bog and have a cry about it or should I try and help myself.

Here is an example. I got a truck bogged in western Qld. I said to myself, what are you going to do about this old son and the answer came back like this. Well self says back to me, is anybody likely to come along the road and help. Answer no. When do you think you will get to town for a beverage. Answer a good few days.

So after self had talked to me, I decided to get the machine off the float and hook a couple of drag chains to the prime mover and float. Now there was only me and self, so I had to be a little careful not to scratch the truck or boss would remove my manly bits.

Well I towed that rig over 20k without a scratch, one thing is I was glad I wasn't paying for the fuel and poor old Joe was also missing out on his fuel excise for that journey.

Besides getting me and self out of trouble, I also kept a shire grader driver in a job for a day or two.

So Pop next time you look around to see who is watching, you can probably blame me for creating the bog in the first place. See you at the pub for a beverage.
FollowupID: 822006

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:53

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 15:53
Mate, if your actions got the shire grader out to do a bit of a touch up you are owed a beer or three.


FollowupID: 822007

Reply By: Bigfish - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 18:45

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 18:45
Mate , I would have done the same thing!!! With all the do-gooders, experts and morally right people around who would have driven off or said "tutt-tutt"...up em...You acted safely and were a good samaritan. Common sense once again is the casualty.
AnswerID: 537776

Reply By: Trevor P4 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 21:01

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 21:01
Well done to you and your mate.
I hope I don't meet most of the other posters in this thread on the track any time soon.
AnswerID: 537781

Reply By: Aussi Traveller - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 21:39

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 21:39
Just another reason not to visit Fraser Island again, I have been there twice before and have met arrogant rangers, tour guides and staff from that rip off joint Kingfisher bay.

Had that coppers wife started on me for helping someone, she would have been told in no uncertain terms to F!@# off, just as I did with the above mentioned.

Who the hell do these people think they are ??, Fraser Island isn't that special that they can treat thier visitors like bleep and get away with it, 1952 I am sure the guy you helped out appresiates your help and good on you, keep up the good work, as for that law give me a fine and I will take it to court.


AnswerID: 537784

Reply By: fisho64 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 22:10

Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 at 22:10
all this crap goes back to something that is coming more and more relevant as the years go on.
Just because something is illegal, does not necessarily mean it is immoral.
Help someone in need, or hire a lawyer/risk analysis expert first to assess before deciding if its "wrong"?
The law simply is not exclusively "for the good of the people" as it once was.

Criteria for making these decisions

1/ Do I want to brighten someone elses day?
2/ Will I lose any sleep if I do it?
3/ Will it harm anyone?
4/ What are the chances of getting caught?
5/ What are the consequences?

Too many people stress about "doing something illegal" on the most mundane things which is exactly what the Gov likes-never 100% sure you are totally law abiding.

Good onya 1952 for helping, and I bet you felt good afterward.
AnswerID: 537786

Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 00:31

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 00:31
I have seen and been involved in discussions concering towing of vehicles in the past and it plays out like this.

While it may not be specifically illegal to tow another vehicle the practicalities and a variety of non specific laws make it illegal in most situations.

Now we must make a distinction between towing and recovering a vehicle.
Recovering a vehicle you are either assisting a perfectly functional vehicle only untill it is capable of making its own way or removing a non functional vehicle to a place of safety or where it can be trailered or put on a tow truck.

the details that make towing illegal revolve arround.

Being able to properly controll the towed vehicle.
The towing capacity of the towing vehicle.
The adequacy of the towing tackle and the attachment points.
A number of nit picky little matters, that while small none the less make it illegal.

If you are to legally tow another vehicle, the towing vehicle needs to be considerably larger then the towed vehicle to have sufficient towing capacity, the towed vehicle has to have all lights, brakes and power steering functioning ( thus the motor must run) and it will be at a very slow speed to maintain sufficient stopping distance given the maximum legal length of the tow rope.

In my youth, people used to rope or chain tow all the time and considerable distances....I know people who have rope towed in excess of 100Km on the highway and at near highway speeds.......but like other things you would not consider it now.

Back in the day we also used to tow a vehicle on a trailer behind a similar vehicle...modern towing capacities make that illegal in most cases.
If you are to tow a vehicle on a trailer the twoing vehicle in general needs to be considerably heavier than the vehicle on the trailer to have sufficient towing capacity.

This is nothing to do wth being on Frazer island, or needing some specific towing rig..its just become generally impractical and illegal for a variety of reasons.

AnswerID: 537791

Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 13:24

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 13:24
Back in approx 1988 I had to tow ( well I didn't HAVE to, but I did ) my brother in his HQ Holden ( remember the fibre timing gear on the red motor ) along the freeway for approx 30K's with a rope.

And we sat on a respectable 90k/ph....even had someone try and pull in behind me and force that person tailgating me to drop back a bit !!!!

Would I do it again these days.......probably, but at the risk of getting caught, the time of day ( or night ) would have to be considered..

A lot of the time, it's not about breaking the law, which no one likes doing, but more about helping someone out of a situation..
FollowupID: 822048

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 14:10

Sunday, Aug 17, 2014 at 14:10
Yeh back in the 70's and 80's. where I lived people towing vehicles with a rope was a quite common occurance.

If a mate or family member broke down, you grabbed your tow rope and towed them home.
Half the blokes I knew had a tow rope in the boot, the other half knew who had one.

Hell for a while there my brother thaught is name was "come and get me"

It was very common to buy non going used cars or wrecks and tow them home

many mechanics and garrages would come a "tow you in" with their ute or van and a rope.

These days its just not a clever idea to do it on public roads.

There would be very few mechanics that would come and get you with a tow rope...they would tell you to call a tow truck.

Even then towing industry does very little actual towing.....I cant remember the last time I saw a tow truck that was not a tilt tray appart from the realy heavy ones.

These days you would be lucky to find someone who had sufficient experience to tow or be towed by a rope.
Back in the 60's and 70's there where a few people who did a lot of it and where pretty good at it.

These days ya most likely to end ip with something ripped out or one vehicle in the back of the other.


FollowupID: 822054

Reply By: steved58 - Monday, Aug 18, 2014 at 20:09

Monday, Aug 18, 2014 at 20:09
Back in the late 70s towed a holden panelvan with a cortina from norseman to perth Would I do it now not on ya nelly It used to be common
Cheers Steve
AnswerID: 537861

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (11)