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Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016

Road Rules clear view demands common factor in mirrors choices for compliant towing

Clearview towing mirror fully extended on GoSee Toyota TD Sahara.
Clearview towing mirror fully
extended on GoSee Toyota
TD Sahara.

The Australian Road Rules were introduced in 1999 and these form the basis for the rules in all Australian states and territories. There are however still a number of variations across Australia, which are allowed through 'laws of jurisdiction.'

The road rules state that a driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road as well as traffic ahead, behind and to each side.

If a caravan, trailer or other object being towed is high or wide enough to obscure your view through the normal rear-view or side mirrors, then extension mirrors should be fitted to the towing vehicle.

Australian Road Rules 297 (2) 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. Offence provision. Note "Motor vehicle" is defined in the dictionary.

Clearview mirrors on GSA Ford Ranger
Clearview mirrors on GSA Ford Ranger

The RTA New South Wales (NSW) website states: "Where the trailer is wider than the towing vehicle, side mirrors on the towing vehicle may project beyond the width of the trailer. However, when the trailer is detached, these mirrors must be removed if they project more than 150 mm beyond the extreme width of the towing vehicle. [In the case of vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), collapsible mirrors may project up to 230 mm beyond the width of the vehicle provided they are capable of collapsing to 150 mm].

South Australia sa.gov.au Use your side and rear view mirrors to give you good visibility along the full length of the towing vehicle on both sides.

General comment: A reversing camera fitted to the rear of your caravan and connected for viewing on a display screen in the tow vehicle cab will also provide a good rear view but may not adequately provide good vision so you can see down both sides of your caravan or trailer. You need to consider if the tow vehicle mirrors are adequate to supplement the rear view camera.

The common factor is the driver must have an unrestricted clear view of the road to the rear of the caravan or camper trailer and be able to view any overtaking or following vehicles. Extended (external) rear view mirrors should be used where the trailer is wider than the tow vehicle to accommodate this.

Clearview towing mirrors make an impression.
Clearview towing mirrors make an impression.

Clearview Towing Mirrors has produced something really different. The Clearviews are designed for recognised tow tugs used in Australia and New Zealand. So Australia's and New Zealand's demanding conditions are considered.

GSA now uses Clearview mirrors on both the GoSee Toyota TD 100 Series auto Toyota Sahara and the Ford Ranger tow tugs.

The Clearviews are full replacement mirrors and use the existing mounting and plug in points. This is an excellent anti-theft result, plus the electrics on the mirrors works from the existing mirror switch.

Clearview are designed for towing caravans, boats and big trailers.

The Clearviews bolt onto the tow vehicle in the same position as the existing mirrors and use the standard bolts and electrical plugs.

The big mirrors have an extension slide and are pulled out for towing work (see first picture).

The Clearview mirrors operate for the same electrics and controls as the standard mirrors they replace.

For towing and reversing the mirrors provide a clear view down both sides of a caravan.

They lock in place when pulled out for towing and are completely free of vibration and stability hassles which are common in some other towing mirror brands.

There is a second mirror below the flat main Clearview mirror to keep track of the many drivers and motorcyclists who test their luck by hiding in towing blind spots.

There are no nuisance value additional straps, brackets, struts, suction cups and nothing to store away.

The mirrors are secure and always part of the vehicle.

Clearview mirrors give steady  rear  vision
Clearview mirrors give steady rear vision

The Clearview mirrors simply pushes in when the towing job is done.

On that point the mirrors need more space than standard mirrors in tight areas like narrow garages but they fold back to allow for this small disadvantage.

GoSee fitted two Clearview mirrors to the company Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series TD Sahara GSA in about 40 minutes.

There is a useful How-To CD with the Clearview mirrors and GoSee watched that before we started the fitting process.

This is a task for genuine handy people and it certainly helps that GoSee Managing Director Graham Wallace holds a Dip Eng (Elec.).

With the inner door panel off the Sahara 100 Series the Clearview instructions did the job.

The only surprise was that Toyota engineers have provided more electrical connection points in the top-of-the-range Sahara than GoSee could find reasons for.

There are always trade-offs and a really Clearview when towing increases fuel consumption due to wind drag. But a rock steady view is a high value when it is essential for safety that mirrors reflect reality. The mirrors are much bigger than the standard mirror (about 100mm wider before they are extended), which allows for much clearer vision and safer towing.

When the caravan is hooked up, the mirror head can be pulled outwards for another 100mm of extension to see past the side of the caravan. The Clearviews respond to what is already wired up in the vehicle.

GSA in Blue Sky  country.
GSA in Blue Sky country.

So in the case of the Ranger that includes turning flashers on the outer edge of the mirrors. No complications just press the usual buttons and the Clearviews respond.

The top glass in the Clearview operates electrically and it is flat glass. The bottom mirror is a manually operated mirror and is a convex glass, which allows Clearview into the lane beside the tow tug which removes most blind spots.

The Ora mirrors GoSee used to use on the company TD Toyota Sahara 100 Series auto did not have steadies. They did the job just clipped onto the Land Cruisers standard mirrors. There was some vibration but not enough to distort the reflection much.

Over time GoSeeAustralia's towing team has used mirror brands which come with straps, struts, door sill hooks and magnetic pads. They have all required some kind of compromise.

For example straps chafe. A magnetic pad underneath helps, but in dusty going it abrades the paintwork underneath.

The suction pads which come with some Ora mirrors are not reliable. GoSee thinks magnetic is better. We had a set of Ora mirrors on the GoSee Colorado until we moved to Clearview for this truck.

We lost the driver's side mirror when wind pressure from a passing truck pulled it off and sent it under the wheels of the Jayco Westport we were towing crunching it into thousands of pieces. Clearview mirrors are stable and remain part of the vehicle, hooked to the standard electrics. GoSee thinks the Clearview price is justified by the reliability and safety they provide.

Downsides - they must be folded back in tight parking spots.

Depending on conditions towing load and road speed they increase fuel consumption by up to .5 of a litre per 100km. GoSee finds that heavy duty roof racks have a similar affect on fuel use efficiency, but in GoSee's opinion safety, strength and convince balance the equation.

Pictured top: GSA preferred Clearview towing mirrors fitted to the TD Toyota Sahara Land Cruiser.

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au

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