Introduction to Trailer Hitch Laws

Trailer Hitch laws are important because the improper fastening of trailers and trailer hitches can lead to absolute disasters.  Improper trailer towing results in more then one person, per day, dying in a traffic accident. For this reason, Ron Melancon, a traffic safety activist, has been lobbying for safer trailer towing laws since 2003; right after a trailer broke loose and killed his daughter. Many states have laws governing the use of a trailer, and there are many different kinds of trailers to consider. However, there are some basic laws that are common between all states and these are some of the laws that we are going to focus on today.

Trailer Light Laws

There are several situations where one may need to pull a trailer. If someone is going camping, a camper can be pulled. If their car is broke down, they may use a trailer to pull the car. Farmers will use a horse trailer and there are various types of cargo trailers for pulling every thing from furniture to trash. All of these types of trailers must have working taillights. The amount people that will pull a trailer without lights are startling and the result can be disastrous. It the trailer does have lights, make sure there unimpeded and clearly visible. Most states require headlights be on while pulling a trailer. The reason for this is so the driver behind you can judge their distance and stop accordingly. Driving with your headlights on can cut down on 50% or rear end collisions involving a trailer.

Overweight Trailer Laws

Every vehicle comes with a recommended maximum load capacity from the factory. Trailers are no different. The trailer manufacturer usually stamps the maximum allowable weight for the particular model trailer on the frame. They will also state how much weight the hitch can carry. Trailers that have too much weight and exceed the manufacturers recommend weight capacity is an accident waiting to happen. This is why every state has laws governing how much weight per axle a trailer can carry. There are also laws stating that 60 percent of the trailer load should be placed in front of the axle with the remaining 40% to the rear of the trailers axle. This is to prevent fishtailing during a hard stop.

Trailer Speeding Laws

It is essential to obey all speed laws when pulling a trailer. Most states have maximum and minimum recommend speed when pulling a trailer. They also require the vehicle to be in the right hand lane at all times. Driving in the far left lane at 50 miles per hour when the rest of the traffic is doing 70 is asking for an accident. Another of the major factors to consider while driving with a trailer is the wind. Wind is an often-overlooked factor and can result in told loss of vehicle control. All it takes is one good gust of wind to blow you off course when you are pulling a trailer. The law requires lower speeds on bridges and other windy zones to help you maintain control during windy weather.