The Australian Design Rules (ADRs) are national standards for vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions. The ADRs are generally performance based and cover issues such as occupant protection, structures, lighting, noise, engine exhaust emissions, braking and a range of miscellaneous items.
The current standards, the Third Edition ADRs, are administered by the Australian Government under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The Act requires all road vehicles, whether they are newly manufactured in Australia or are imported as new or second hand vehicles, to comply with the relevant ADRs at the time of manufacture and supply to the Australian market. When a road vehicle is first used on Australian roads the relevant state or territory government's legislation generally requires that it continue to comply with the relevant ADRs as at the time of manufacture.
The First Edition ADRs were distributed for discussion purposes. However, they were not adopted as a legally binding set of standards under either national or state/territory law.
The Second Edition ADRs first came into effect on 1 January 1969. These ADRs were selectively applied under state/territory law. They were subsequently made part of the national standards by Determination No 2 of 1989 published by the Commonwealth Government Gazette (Special Gazette series) No S 291 dated 1 September 1989.
The decision to develop a Third Edition of the ADRs was made at the 63rd meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council (ATAC) in February 1983 following a comprehensive review of the vehicle regulatory system. Several major recommendations were endorsed relating to ADR Development. The first was that international harmonisation of vehicle safety standards should be actively pursued, with close attention given to the alignment of vehicle categories and particular ADRs with their international counterparts except where there is sufficient evidence to justify unique requirements. Another was that all regulations relating to the design and construction of new vehicles should be integrated into the national ADR system.
The Third Edition ADRs, having been developed under the auspices of the ATAC between February 1983 and December 1986, became effective from 1 July 1988 as national standards for the purposes of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 on 2 August 1989 (Gazette number S 264). As initially published, the Third Edition ADRs were a combination of active Second Edition ADRs and existing essential “design and construction” requirements of the Consolidated Draft Regulations. They have since been added to and amended, to reflect the further needs of the community.