Caravan number plate rule … how high is too high?

Published: June 1, 2015
Crusader number plates

A little known regulation covering the height at which a number plate is mounted on the back of a caravan has stirred up a hornet’s nest of angst … and cost one unlucky caravanner $415.

Steve Laws was on his way back home, after having  towed his Crusader all the way around Australia, when an eagle-eyed highway policeman slapped him with the heavy fine and gave him three demerit points. Steve’s offence was having  a rear licence plate sitting 30cm higher than regulations allow.

As a member of the NRMA, Steve contacted the NSW motoring organisation and they carried out some research on his behalf. They found NSW road transport vehicle legislation drafted in 2007 (where the offence occurred) and Victorian road safety regulations enshrined in 2009 (where the caravan was built) both require the number plate on a caravan to be no more than 1.3 metres above the ground.

“What gets up my nose is that the caravan is three years old, it passed rego and it was built locally so I thought this rule was a new thing – but it’s not,” Mr Laws told the NRMA. “The guys who made it should know the rules and the guys who passed it for rego should know, too. But the policeman who pulled me over said ‘it’s your fault for driving it’.”

And Mr Laws reckons he is far from being the only one inadvertently breaking the rules.

“Ever since I got booked, I look at caravans all the time on the road now and I reckon 30% of them aren’t legal – why aren’t police pulling them up?” he asked. “There are actually a couple of caravan parks up my way and I reckon there’d be a traffic jam if police were pulling them all up.”

Following the publicity generated by the NRMA surrounding the issue, the Caravan Industry Association has been in contact with Crusader Caravans to discuss the matter.

“We’re working closely with the national regulator to stamp out non-compliance across a range of areas,”the organisation’s chief executive, Stuart Lamont, told the NRMA. “We’ve been talking to state government bodies about this but they’ve been going down the path of education rather than enforcement, which has failed.”

Mr Lamont said breaches regarding couplings, gas and electrical installations, so-called “suicide doors” and various personal products imported through a self-declaration process could be regarded as more pressing matters for regulators to address than number plate height.

  • Were you aware of the number plate height restrictions? Does your van measure up? Comment below.
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PhillipN
6 years ago

OK, so the ruling is that number plates are to be no higher than 1.3 meters from the ground. I along with a lot of others would like to know WHY this rule was implemented.

Robyn Huffer
6 years ago
Reply to  PhillipN

My husband & I would also like to know why this rule was implemented. What difference does it make for the number plate to be slightly higher than 1.3 metres. It is not a traffic hazard to anyone. This is now going to be an extra cost to caravaners to have the number plate moved. There will be holes where it is screwed onto the fan, which will mean a new panel, & also with the number plate light having to be moved as well, more holes & re-wiring. Cannot possibly see why this necessary. Can someone please tell me why this is even a rule.

John Christopher
6 years ago
Reply to  Robyn Huffer

To me the reason is obvious. Pictures for speed cameras were normally taken from a distance. If you’ve ever viewed a sped camera picture is has the whole car and most of the street captured in the photograph. It didn’t need to be that precise. People are not speeding anywhere close to how they used to (which is what ‘while off five’ was all about in Victoria), but the revenue from mobile license plate recognition cameras is a potential smorgasbord for fine revenue-addicted state governments. The problem is the technology. To get a clear enough picture – taken of a moving carI from a moving police or council vehicle – for the recognition software to work, the image captured must be closer. Most police and local government vehicles are sedans. They are low down. At close range, a number plate fitted above 1.3m will be out of the capture window of the lower vehicle. So they have dredged up an old law that, until now, was not really relevant to anybody, and started raking in the fines, getting everyone aware, so they mount their plates low enough for the cameras to capture. Nice one-two punch for motorists’ pockets.

David Jurd
6 years ago

Checked with NSW RTA, and your’e spot on. It’s all about the new technology in the cameras needing a target in specific positions to be accurate .

Tony Ashton
5 years ago
Reply to  David Jurd

Change the technology. Not all the Caravans. Your tech is not good enough. You created the problem. I reckon you should fix it.

Tony Ashton
5 years ago
Reply to  David Jurd

Change the technology. Not all the Caravans. Your tech is not good enough. You created the problem. I reckon you should fix it. Not fining the public for your tech blunder.

Trevor Huffer
6 years ago
Reply to  Robyn Huffer

What’s the latest on this number plate. We are about to hit the Road again,in our Crusader Insperation. The Number plate is 1.6 to the top..

Carolyn
5 years ago
Reply to  Robyn Huffer

pure and simple revenue raising…nothing whats o ever to do with safety
means they dont have to lift their in car camera up to read the number
laziness and pure revenue raising .

james
4 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

what does it matter what the height is as long as it can be read and lit up at night most of new caravans number plates are fitted high

Colin Morley
5 years ago
Reply to  Robyn Huffer

Perhaps so speed cameras can focus on your plate? Going through the problem with my 2014 New Age Manat Ray

Carole
6 years ago
Reply to  PhillipN

Come on guys. If the rules have changed, it’s because the Speed Camera’s can’t read that high. Another FUND raiser for Gov’t.

DOUG LEIGH
6 years ago
Reply to  PhillipN

My guess would be that most traffic cameras are positioned at a hight as to capture all unsuspecting motorist, now with your plates situated higher than the 1.3 allowed there May be a problem with the focus on there cameras hence the heafty fine what they are saying is that your trying to out wit the police.

Michael French
6 years ago
Reply to  PhillipN

This is indeed a stupid rule also what is stupid is the fact that you can be fined if your rear number plate light is not working by the police this is a stupid law because the policeman’s driving lights are on at night which will light up the cars number plate in front anyway.

nomad55
4 years ago
Reply to  PhillipN

I checked with Qld Transport & the rule applies here. Plates must be between 300mm & 1.3 mtr from ground, otherwise speed cameras miss them!!!!

Graham
6 years ago

Different states have different laws regarding number plate specs which again complicates the issue. Should the caravan manufacturers be made to correctly reposition the placement of the plate and light for it if it did not comply with the state regulation where it was manufactured at the time it was built?

Terry Thorpe
6 years ago

The lights on this van would be borderline as well ,distance from the outer edge,and height. The jacking legs like that will get you a fine in WA as well. The tin of worms are loose.

Richard Homans
6 years ago

Maybe the officer has some grievance with caravans. To me this should have been dealt with by advice from the officer and a letter by him or police to Caravaning Clubs, Authorities or Manufacturers to point out the irregularity.I far as I can see it has no bearing on road safety which should be paramount. Only if the owner had moved the plate and its light from the original manufactures position should the owner have been penalised. I hope he went to court with representation by NRMA to hopefully find some logical magistrate who should have wiped the penalty, but maybe the Highway Patrol was down on its revenue raising that week, because thats all this is. Signed, one ex cop.

John Reid
6 years ago

I’d say, like so many other ‘road safety’ issues, it’s most likely a matter of revenue-raising. The height may make it difficult for police scanners to read and thus impose a fine if you ‘do the wrong thing’.

Elaine
6 years ago

Its rules like this in some states, that makes tourism in Australia a real headache, and it must be costing Australia many dollars in Tourist revenue.

Trevor
6 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

It’s getting to hard all these laws. Think I might Sell The Caravan & Travel Over Seas. (Number plate height. Grey water. Free Camping. Caravan weight.

Bob McKerrow
6 years ago

Plate height is as was said that the plate recognition and speed cameras are not aimed that high, the minimum height is for all of the plate to be above 350mm and below 1300mm. Australian Design Regulations 1999. As for lights, maximum height is 1500mm above the ground unless the design of the caravan makes it not possible and then the maximum height is 2100mm. Once again ADR VEHICLE STANDARD BULLETIN 1 Rev 4 June 1999.

Robert
6 years ago

My number plate is 1.4m if I lower it it will be hidden by my spare tyres. So what do I do. Hide the plate or leave my spares at home.???

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  Robert

A common real problem for anyone who has a van with 2 spare tyres mounted on the rear bar. At the regulation 1300mm or lower, the plate is probably illegally partially obscurred by the spare tyre.

peter olding
6 years ago

Dept of transport Qld states 1.3 meteres to bottom of no plate

Brian
6 years ago

I have been trying to find the regulation on the RMS website, but to no avail. Can anybody tell me where this regulation is hidden?

Geoff
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Its in ADR061 (Google it that’s how I found out) unfortunately its an ADR enacted since (I think 1998), various states have cut and pasted this into their Registration Regulations. Its crazy that caravan manufacturers have disregarded this and still are. A quick walk around any van park will show you how disregarded this is, despite the plate being clearly displayed if its above 1.3m then it doesn’t comply. Yes, mine needs to move as well, not happy.

Brian
6 years ago
Reply to  Geoff

Thanks Geoff

Greg George
6 years ago

My Supreme territory along with all the others must be illegal mines 1.6 at the base of the number plate and if I move it there would be wiring running down the outside of the van ( another fine I suppose ) the police need a life .My neighbors Windsor is over as well .

Frank Ward
6 years ago

Perhaps the Officer concerned had a bad start with the missus in the morning, or he has been ear bashed about his weekly quota by his superiors and took this out on the first Caravanner who passed his checkpoint..

RON WISHART
6 years ago

lots of recall notices going out about airbags and other faulty products, why not caravan faults

Brian
6 years ago

After getting advice from Geoff I finally tracked it down! It is in the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 1998. Division 3 Use of number plate 24 Display of number plates Para 1 (a) (ii) on page 27 (not more than 1.3 metres above ground level, and

Tony Sullivan
6 years ago

Just took delivery of new Regent caravan, number plate 1.3 metres to bottom of plate (nsw rego). Looking at website i’m illegal too, been in touch with Regent in Victoria who advised they would check it out and if need be would move number plate. Must have been a nasty police officer in a nasty mood to not just give a warning.

noel
6 years ago

I want to know what height from ground to bottom of number plate

Wayne Rose
6 years ago

NSW Vehicle standards information (VSI) No, 58 published 21 March 2011: Number-plate visibility Clause 61 (2)(b) of Schedule 2 of the Regulation requires that a number-plate is not obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible. Diagrams are shown with NO indication that any part of the number-plate cannot be above 1.3m?

denise
6 years ago

our newly caravan purchased in Qld will not pass a rego check in NSW if number plate is not moved to meet the 1.3 mtr height requirement,what a joke!!

Wayne Rose
6 years ago
Reply to  denise

Sorry your Qld registered caravan does not comply with Qld regulations as below:
Queensland Consolidated Regulations

[Index] [Table] [Search] [Search this Act] [Notes] [Noteup] [Previous] [Next] [Download] [Help]
TRANSPORT OPERATIONS (ROAD USE MANAGEMENT—VEHICLE REGISTRATION) REGULATION 2010 – SECT 30

30 Position, visibility and legibility of number plate
(1) The registered operator of a vehicle must ensure that each number plate issued for a vehicle is permanently attached to the vehicle so that, if the vehicle is on level ground—

(a) the number plate is—
(i) in an upright position parallel to the vehicle’s axles; and
(ii) not more than 1.3m above ground level; and

pauline
6 years ago

Our number plate is just over the 1.3m but the camera on the toll roads reads us ok. So whats the difference?

scott
6 years ago

As a caravan repairer I see a lot of different vans and there are a few issues that need to highlighted yes number plates is one , however another that no one seems to be talking about is over width due to an awning installation . So next time you have a tape measure out measure your van. If you contact the RTA they will tell what the max width for a trailer is.

Colin
5 years ago
Reply to  scott

You are right Scott, there are a lot of rules that regulators, inspectors and police disregard. I worked in the motor industry for 40 years were I seen rules strictly enforced during an original rego inspection then find 2 years latter that same rule was not enforced (no that’s OK mate).
A good example is poor level of visibility of some coloured number plates. How many drivers got booked in the past for a dirty number plate. In the case of the number plate height It would have to be the Manufacture that is at fault for not studying the regulations.

Peter Bell
6 years ago

This caravan number plate height thing ADR061 is a Design Rule, not a NSW RMS regulation… therefore it is the caravan manufacturer that has broken the regulation (“the law”?)
How about Grey Nomads getting busy setting the police right eh?
Or pehaps contact the minister for Transport (was Duncan Gay) to make it legal? Fat chance ?

Craig
6 years ago

There is an exemption under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 1998 Section (2) part (a), that states due to the construction of the vehicle it is not practicable to comply with those paragraphs in Subclause 1 (a) (ii) that refers to the height of 1300mm. In other words if your van has been designed with the light and a specific number plate location it is exempt. If you get booked I would be pleading not guilty and site their own legislation. No magistrate worth their salt would endure the stupidity of an over zealous COP wasting the courts time. Problem is court is time consuming and expensive, but if you are willing to defend yourself the COP will look like the NOB he is for issuing the ticket

Norm Penny
4 years ago
Reply to  Craig

the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 1998 has been replaced by the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007. Schedule 2 (Vehicle Standards), Part 3 Vehicle marking, 61 Number-plates

(1) (Repealed)

(2) The vehicle number-plate issued by the Authority for a vehicle must be permanently affixed to the vehicle so that (assuming the vehicle to be on level ground):

(a) the number-plate is at all times:

(i) in an upright position that is substantially parallel to the vehicle’s axles, and

(ii) not more than 1.3 metres above ground level, and

(b) the number-plate is not obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible, and

(c) the numbers on the number-plate are clearly visible from any point that is:

(i) up to 20 metres from the number-plate, and

(ii) within an arc of 45 degrees from the surface of the number-plate above or to either side of the vehicle, as shown in figures 1 and 2 of diagram 1 (in relation to heavy vehicles) and figures 1 and 2 of diagram 2 (in relation to light vehicles).
It goes on with some diagrams but then in 3)
(3) Subclause (2) (a) does not apply to a vehicle number-plate of a registrable vehicle if:

(a) due to the construction of the vehicle it is not practicable to comply with that paragraph, and

(b) the number-plate is affixed in a manner that complies so far as practicable with that paragraph.

So, from this I think that you can have your plates higher than 1.3M if its not practical to put them anywhere else and so long as they meet the visibility parameters and number plate lighting, you should be ok.
I am no lawyer so do not take this as legal advice, its my opinion only. I will be taking my van to an RTA inspection place and get a ruling myself.

michael & margaret rule
6 years ago

Fantastic ! info as I am building a rear spare tyre mounting bar & did’t know the correct heights of lights or number plate.Just towed a 22.5ft van from Bulli NSW UNREGISTERD.Went into NSW Motor Registery Office in Corrimal & asked could I tow an unregistered caravan to Townsville Qld & how much? Well what a surprise ,YES & the fee is only $22 and as I was going via Sutton(near the ACT) I was allowed 28 days to get home.After getting my paperwork I went out & cooeed YES there is a GOD who looks over Grey Nomads (NOT IN QLD!).All the way home from Canberra via Parkes,Dubbo ,Narrabri ,Goondiwindi,Toowoomba, Theodore (Stayed @ showground new amenities $25 ),Capella & Charters Towers .Did not see a cop & did’t even have a number plate (only my permit) Also I am in the market for a second hand roof mounted air conditioner or infmo where I could get one? Please any body know caravan dismantlers or the like.

derek henderson
5 years ago

just another reg we caravaners have to keep up with like ( do not overtake turning vehicle ) sign & yellow &black stripe tape along the back bumper bar serched r& m sites with no success

eric tonks
5 years ago

would I be legal if I had a stick on reg number on my rear caravan tyre cover,Leaving my original plate as is?

Charles Pace
5 years ago

If it contravenes the ADR, I would have thought it should be a recall at the manufacturer’s expense.

Dave Mackay
5 years ago

My understanding is that all Government Bodies have a duty of care to educate the wider population of such Regulations. Also, a caravan sales company, should also be obliged to notify a new first time caravan owner of such regulations, as they did so when we purchased our new Jurgens, of the weights and payload for the caravan before taking ownership. Also they are not allowed by law to allow the van to leave the dealership, unless the towing vehicle has the required breaking systems required.

Lawrie
4 years ago

For QLD please read Transport Operations(Road use management-vehicle registration) Section 30 clause 4

wendie
4 years ago

next we will be paying gas emissions for farting.shame on you aussie government lol what a laughing stock u have turned our country into.nothing but thieving from the people that vote u in

Don
4 years ago

Like with many things there are rules relating to cars, trucks and caravans. Officials may argue that the height limit set to 1.3 metres is to help make speed camera installation uniform and effective.
Irrespective of who came up with this, my question is why aren’t caravan manufacturers complying with this ADR? A lot of people bleat about how much better Australian caravans are than overseas vans, yet some don’t even comply with local regulations. Makes me wonder what other rules have these Australian caravan manufacturers skimped on? I’ve heard horror stories of domestic caravans made by some of our biggest companies being non compliant the day they leave the factory.

David
4 years ago

I wonder how this applies to bicyle racks on the tow bar of vehicles (including caravans) that have the smaller plate attached. I doubt any of them would comply…..are these exempt from this ridiculous piece of legislation?

ray smith
3 years ago

I have a 2004 York and have just done the rego 1st time for us and the machenic had only just got his inspection ticket he told me that next year the number plate will have to be lowered by 30Mm as OT is to high what a load of crap the rule was brought in on 2007 3 Years after my van was built and it has passed rego every year since now some over officious machenic is going to make me modify my van to comply with a 30Mm hight bloody ridiculous

Frank
3 years ago

Just got chipped by NSW Highway Patrol because the van’s plate is tucked under the rear departure angle and was not visible from 45 degrees above. That’s the way the factory built it 11 years ago. Have had no issues in that time. After some discussion I was let off with, in his terms, a “friendly warning”.

Barry Woods
1 year ago

Why dosent the Registration Places in each state sent letters to caravan owners stating the regulations on this issue about number Plate heights.
Its not the caravan owners fault this is an issue from the manufacturer.

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