Tow truck industry changes fail to deliver required reforms

Towing Truck

Read time: 3 mins

The changes that the NSW Government made to tow truck industry regulation that came into effect on 1 July 2020, haven’t solved the major problems with the red tape that is reducing the efficiency of the heavy vehicle industry.

Fair Trading says that the changes aim to reduce red tape, increase consumer protections, make compliance fairer, and modernise rules for holding yards and equipment. But in reality, there has been a failure to deliver the reforms required to deliver efficiencies and fairness.  Changes to the statute must occur, not mere tinkering with the regulations, as has occurred.

Some heavy vehicle operators who aren’t in the accident towing business need to be licensed.  The legislation is too broad in its coverage and adversely affects the road transport industry. NatRoad continues to get inquiries from members about these issues and therefore we now set out the problem and the partial solution that the changes to the regulations have delivered.

NatRoad asked the Government to narrow the ambit of the legislation and to focus on properly regulating the accident/breakdown sector.  That sector is crying out for a modern, up-to-date regulatory regime that better fits with regulation in other States and Territories.

Problematically, the definition of ‘tow truck’ remains as being any of the following motor vehicles that are used or operated for the purposes of towing motor vehicles (i.e. used in the everyday operation of NatRoad members’ businesses):

(a)       a motor vehicle that is equipped with a lifting device;

(b)      a motor vehicle that is equipped with a trailer, towing attachment or other similar device;

(c)       a motor vehicle that is fitted with a tilt table-top, or with a tilt table-top and winch;

(d)      a motor vehicle that is fitted with a self-loading table-top that is capable of being detached from the motor vehicle for the purpose of loading or unloading another vehicle;

(e)       any other motor vehicle prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.


One clarification has occurred. Car carriers, defined as being a motor vehicle combination (including a multi-deck combination) that is designed or adapted for use for the transport of motor vehicles:

(a)       that is not equipped or fitted with a lifting device (whether portable or fixed) for the purpose of loading the motor vehicles to be transported onto a car deck; and

(b)      onto which the motor vehicles to be transported are loaded by travelling along a ramp under their own propulsion, and

(c)       in the case of a multi-deck combination, may be equipped or fitted with equipment designed only for the purpose of raising and lowering the car decks;

are declared not to be tow trucks for the purposes of the Act.

Details of other exemptions established by the regulations are set out below.


Exemptions from applying for a tow truck operator license or driver certificate

There are some situations where you may not be required to hold a license or drivers certificate. These exemptions include:

·     an exemption from the requirement to hold a drivers certificate for a mechanic in the course of repairing a tow truck;

·     the towing of recreational vehicles when being transported to or from a trade show, suppliers, manufacturers, dealers or repairers within the state;

·     the towing, salvage or storage of a forklift truck, a golf-buggy, a ride-on mower, an excavator or a cherry picker; or

·     the list of exempt motor vehicles contained in schedule 1 of the regulation.


NatRoad will continue to lobby for proper regulation of the accident/recovery sector.  In the meantime, members should be aware that in operating some trucks they may need to get a tow truck license even though they aren’t in that business.

If you need further assistance please reach out to the NatRoad Member Services Team on 1800 272 144 (8.30 am – 5.00 pm AEST, Mon-Fri) or email [email protected].