The Australian Design Rules (ADRs) are our national standards for road vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions. All new road vehicles manufactured in Australia and imported new or second-hand vehicles, must comply with the relevant ADRs when they are first supplied to the Australian market.
When a vehicle is first used on an Australian road, the relevant state or territory government legislation generally requires that it complies with the relevant ADRs as at the time of manufacture.
The Australian Government aims to harmonise our national vehicle safety standards with international regulations. The United Nations (UN) international regulations are adopted where possible. Australia is a signatory to the UN 1958 Agreement and the 1998 Agreement. Harmonisation is also important to fulfil our World Trade Organisation and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation commitments.
Current Australian Design Rules
The current standards are the Third Edition ADRs. Since 1 July 2021, they have been administered by the department under the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA). From July 1989 until 1 July 2021, they were administered by the department under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA).
The Third Edition ADRs were made national standards by Determinations Nos 1 and 2 of 1989 published in Special Gazettes dated 2 August and 1 September 1989. However, they became effective from 1 July 1988 as part of a transition from the previous technical requirements.
The Third Edition ADRs were initially a combination of active Second Edition ADRs and existing essential 'design and construction' requirements of the Consolidated Draft Regulations. Over time these ADRs have been amended to ensure they remain relevant and new ADRs have been added to cover new developments in road vehicle manufacturing and technology.
The First Edition ADRs were only distributed for discussion and were not adopted as a legally binding set of standards under either national or state/territory law.
The Second Edition ADRs came into effect on 1 January 1969 and were selectively applied under state/territory law. They only applied to vehicles manufactured from 1 January 1969 onwards.
In a transition period between 1 July 1988 and July 1989, the Second Edition ADRs were increasingly superseded by the Third Edition ADRs.
The application of ADRs for vehicles manufactured up until July 1989 is the responsibility of the state and territory governments. Vehicle users should consult with their state or territory transport authority for the Second and Third Edition ADRs that apply to these vehicles.
Reviewing and developing ADRs
National vehicle standards are subject to an ongoing program of review and revision. This includes monitoring international developments and consulting regularly with the key stakeholders to identify implementation issues, changes affecting existing ADRs and whether new ADRs are needed.
Where possible, the ADRs are reviewed every 10 years to ensure they remain relevant, cost effective, and do not become a barrier to importing safer vehicles and components.
Inviting public comment is an important part of the process. Drafts of ADR amendments, new ADRs and full reviews of existing ADRs are made available on the Have your say webpage.
The level of analysis and consultation depends on the impact a new or amended ADR is expected to have on industry or road users. Consultations involves industry, consumer and government groups. All Regulation Impact Statements examining proposed new or amended ADRs must meet best practice regulatory standards.
Open vehicle standards consultation
Any open consultations on new or revised ADRs are listed below. Further details are available at Have your say.