Why don’t all caravans have reversing lights? Caravans are large, visually obstructive objects. Therefore, anything that gives the driver an advantage when reversing, especially at night, should be welcome.
I, for one, have difficulty understanding why the relevant standard, as defined by the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1, 13.13 Reversing Lamps, stipulates that reversing lights are optional equipment.
Think about it. The law says the tow vehicle must be fitted with reversing lights. But the big, heavy object behind it? Nope. This makes no sense. Logic suggests, in fact demands, that the reversing lights on the tow vehicle will be minimally visible with a caravan hooked up. Their ability to light the way for the person in the driver’s seat is hugely compromised, if not downright irrelevant.
But my caravan has a reversing camera, you might say. In my view, the installation of a reversing camera does not mitigate the logical need for reversing lights on caravans.
Let me be clear: I’m not having a dig at caravan manufacturers, who are only following the law. Rather, I’m questioning a standard that makes optional something that should clearly be mandatory.
And there’s another safety aspect involved, that of people around the caravan, such as distracted children or pedestrians. Perhaps a visual warning – clear white lights at the rear of the van indicating the caravan is about to start backing up – would give these bystanders the presence of mind to move to safety.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
VSB 1 is clear. To quote:
13.13 Reversing Lamps
Presence: Optional on all trailers (emphasis added).
Number: 1 or 2 lamps must be fitted on all trailers with a length less than 6000mm.
2 lamps must be fitted on all trailers with a length greater than 6000mm.
Arrangement: At the rear.
A minimum height of not less than 250mm from the ground; and maximum height of 1200mm from the ground.
Electrical connections: The lamps light up when reverse gear is engaged on the towing vehicle.
Motorhomes have reversing lights, no? And the last time I checked, the average 4WD and 18ft caravan had a combined length greater than any C class rig. Truck not only have reversing lights but buzzers that sound when ‘reverse’ is engaged to warn others that the vehicle is backing up. Is this not an acknowledgment that large vehicle/trailer combinations with limited visibility at the rear need an appropriate warning system for the safety of others?
Andrew Phillips of the RV Repair Centre and Coronet Caravans says that reversing lights can be retrofitted, though it’s not a particularly straightforward job. All of the pins in a standard seven-pin trailer plug are used for electrical connections such as brake lights and indicators, so fitting a wiring connection for reversing lights requires installers to swap to a 12-pin plug. But for new vans it can be problematic, considering all of the features they tend to be fitted with.
“If we were to wire a Coronet with reversing lights, we would have to rearrange our plug as all pins are used, and we have done this in the past,” Andrew told GoRV. “Don’t me wrong, we can definitely do it, but I would not say it’s straightforward. We have done our fair share of it in the past and I hope to do more of it in the future.”
The ‘rearranging’ of the plug would probably involve fitting an Anderson plug, he said.
I checked in with Roy Wyss, the owner of Queensland’s Sunland Caravan. His response was overwhelmingly in favour of reversing lights being mandatory caravan equipment.
“If I had my way, they would also have reverse buzzers,” he said.
GoRV contributors and long-time caravanners, Bruce and Marg Gow (also known as the Baby Boomers on the Road), are also strongly in favour. The tow an On the Move Grenade, which was fitted with reversing lights as standard.
“Once the van is hitched up, we have the same lights as the car, as in we have LED lights on the van that are linked to the reversing lights on the car,” Marg said. “We think all vans should have reversing lights – it seems like common sense. Knowing the movement of a van, especially when parking it, must make for a safer environment for everyone in the vicinity.”
Marg, I couldn’t agree more.
What do you think? Leave your comments below!