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Trailer Towing Laws by State 2023

Many Americans own boats or camping trailers to use on vacations. Although boating, fishing, and camping are fun activities, safety is of the utmost importance when towing tons of extra weight behind your vehicle. Specifically, braking is more difficult and dangerous while towing. The more weight you’re pulling, the more momentum you have, especially at high speeds. This momentum takes a longer distance for your vehicle to stop. Because of this, most states require you to get trailer brakes when the trailer exceeds a certain weight limit and poses maximum towing speeds, which can be as low as 25 miles per hour.

Additionally, states have laws restricting trailers and boats, and it is wise to follow them so that you do not get into an accident or pulled over for non-compliance. Trailer towing laws and regulations vary by state. Towing laws include maximum weights, braking system requirements, tail lights, safety chains, reflectors, brake lights, and more. No matter where your vehicle is registered, you must obey the towing laws in the state you are traveling to or through.

The information below DOES NOT include trailer legislation requirements or laws.

Trailer Towing Laws By State

Tons of rules that all different kinds of trailers have to follow for every state

Two features required in all 50 states Working taillights Visible license plates with their own light

As with any guide regarding laws, they are only as relevant unless the law is changed, which happens all the time. We have to put out a disclaimer that all of this information may not be correct as changes occur. Please do your own research and look into your state, country, city, and municipality rulings on trailer towing rules to be sure that you are following the law.

You can find measured specifications and other relevant details, from AAA, in the table below, including

  • Length (ft.)
  • Height (ft.)
  • Width (ft.)
  • Unladen Weight of Trailers (lbs.) Requiring Brakes
  • Overnight Parking Permitted in State Rest Area
  • Riding Permitted in Towed Trailer
  • Riding Permitted in Pickup Camper

Alabama

As for trailer towing laws, the state of Alabama is not the most strict. Firstly, the connection or drawbar between the towing vehicle and towed object cannot exceed fifteen in length. Also, a cloth, red flag, or other signals no smaller than 12 x 12 inches must be used.

For lighting, the state of Alabama requires that any trailer, vehicle, pole trailer, or semitrailer that is being drawn by another vehicle must have one tail lamp on the rear end that gives off a red light that can be seen from 500 feet away. That rear light must be mounted between 20-60 inches from the ground. On any trailer (or similar towed object) weighing 3,000 lbs or less, there must be two reflectors on the rear-facing end (one on each side). Last, if the trailer or the load being towed hides the view of the vehicle’s stop light, one must be placed on the towed vehicle.

A maximum of one boat or general utility trailer can be towed behind a passenger vehicle. Riding in a towed trailer in the state of Alabama is not allowed

Alaska

Due to the hazardous weather and terrain, it makes sense that the towing laws are strict to prevent accidents. Alaska requires all trailers to be titled and registered. The towing and towed vehicles must be attached two times, once with a regular tow hitch or coupling and second with chains, safety chains, cables, or something equivalent. The lights required on trailers include

  • Taillights
  • Brake lights
  • License plate lights
  • Turn signals
  • Two clearance lights
  • Two side markers
  • Two reflectors

As for mirrors, the state of Alaska requires two on a towing vehicle (the left side is required, and the other may be an interior mirror). Additionally, you can only go 45 mph when towing a mobile home.

Riding in the back of a pickup or in a camper is permitted, but riding in the back of a house trailer that is being towed is not.

Arizona

In Arizona, you may pull two different units only if the middle one has a 5th wheel and weight equal to or greater than the rear unit, also in the event that the rear unit is 3,000 lbs or more and has brakes. As for a trailer hitch, the length cannot exceed 15 feet when connecting one vehicle to another.

As for lighting, at the time of writing this, any trailer weighing more than 3,000 lbs has to have

  • On the front, two clearance lamps are required (one at each side)
  • On each side, two side markers, and two reflectors, one near or at the front and one at or near the rear
  • On the rear, two clearance lamps, two reflectors, two stoplights (one of each on each side)

On the road, no towing vehicles or semitrailers may be going fast enough to cause lateral sway. If the view of the trailer or a towed vehicle is obstructed, there must be mirrors that reflect AT LEAST 200 feet. And if you are towing a non-commercial trailer that has a GVW of 10,000 lbs or less must have a permanent trailer registration (travel and tent trailers do not qualify).

Arkansas

Any trailer or semitrailer that weighs 3,000 lbs or more has to have brakes that can control the movement, stop, and hold the vehicle. Any new trailer (or semitrailer) over 1,500 lbs must have breaks placed on all four wheels. In Arkansas, the connection between the towing and the towed vehicles must be strong, and the law ensures that by requiring a safety chain on all trailers. A 12-inch marker cloth or flag must be placed on connections that are only chains, cables, or ropes.

As for lighting, Arkansas requires reflectors on each side, taillights, brake lights (only if the view of the vehicle brake light is obscured), and license plate lights. If the vehicle is wider than 80 inches, they require turning signals.

California

As a state known for having a lot of legislative content, it’s no wonder that California has a lot to say about trailer towing laws. To make this as clear as possible, we will break up all the different laws into categories of brakes, hitch, lighting/signals, mirrors, and others.

Any vehicle made before 1940 with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 6,000 lbs that moves faster than 20 mph, must have brakes. And those made after 1966 with a GVW of 3,000 lbs have to have brakes on at least two (2) wheels. Every vehicle made after 1982 have to have brakes on all the wheels, and every trailer coach or camp trailer with a GVW of 1,500 lbs must have brakes on at least two (2) wheels.

A manual release locking device (a breakaway mechanism) must be on fifth wheel connections and adapters.

For signals and lighting, the state requires reflectors, tail, brake, and license plate lights. A lamp-style turn signal system is required on a combination of vehicles when towing a trailer coach or camp trailer and on all trailers and semitrailers 80 inches or more. Specifically, vehicles over 80 inches or more need to have

  • One (1) red clearance lamp on each side
  • One (1) amber clearance lamp on each side
  • Two (2) amber side-marker lamps on each side
  • Two (2) red side marker lamps
  • At least three (3) red emergency reflectors

On every vehicle that sits at the end of a combination of two vehicles is required to have two (2) vehicles and every second vehicle that measures less than thirty (30) inches wide needs to have one (1) tail lamp.

Mirrors are required on both sides of the towing vehicle that shows at least 200 feet on the road behind. There are additional requirements for weight and balance and semitrailers, so if you are looking to learn more, you can go to the DMV’s website.

Colorado

In Colorado, a trailer or semitrailer that weighs more than 3,000 lbs has to have two (2) individual means of applying brakes that are able “to control the movement of and to stop and to hold such a vehicle and so designed as to be applied by the driver of the towing motor vehicle from the cab” and have a breakaway mechanism.

According to The Fang Law Firm, towed vehicles that weigh “less than 3,000 pounds, a horse trailer that can hold two horses or less, or a trailer that does not meet the definition of a commercial vehicle and is owned by a farmer transporting agricultural products does not need to be equipped with brakes.”

For lighting, Colorado requires one (1) red taillight that is visible over 500 feet away positioned between 20-72 inches from the ground. Mirrors have to give the driver of the towing vehicle a view of 200 feet of the road behind, and there must be a safety chain that is capable of pulling the full weight of the towed vehicle.

Connecticut

Brakes are required in Connecticut on all wheels of all vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of more than 3,000 lbs They must be able to hold the trailer still, and trailers with a GVW of more than 8,000 lbs need to have a brake system that can be activated by hand or foot in the towing vehicle.

There have to be two connections in Connecticut from the towing to the towed vehicle, one via hitch and the other via safety chains, chains, cables, or a similar feature able to handle the trailer in the event of failure.

Trailer lighting in Connecticut is broken up into four (4) categories, including all trailers, those less than 80 inches wide, those greater than 80 inches wide, and those with a length of 30 feet or longer. All trailers are required to have at least two (2) tail lamps that can be seen up to 1,000 feet, two (2) red rear-facing reflectors, and two (2) red taillights. Trailers that measure less than 80 inches wide must have two (2) rear-facing red reflectors, two (2) or more tail lights mounted anywhere between 15 and 72 inches off the ground, and turning signals. The turning signals have to be either red or amber and be mounted somewhere between 15-83 inches off the ground. For trailers that are more than 80 inches wide, there must be two (2) front clearance lamps, two (2) rear-facing clearance lamps, and three (3) identification lamps mounted at the vertical centerline. For trailers longer than 30 feet, two (2) amber side marker lamps on each side (one on the front and one at the rear) and two (2) reflectors on each side. Trailers with an overall length of 30 feet or more must have one (1) amber side marker lamp on each side and one (1) amber lamp at the center point of the trailer lengthwise.

Connecticut also requires two mirrors on the outside and prohibits riding inside moving house trailers.

Delaware

Delaware has written laws on the hitch/connection that states no vehicle can pull more than one at a time on the highway. The drawbar may be no longer than 15 feet, and the connection must also have a chain, rope, or cable. The connection must be marked with a red flag or cloth that is 12 inches square. Also, a safety chain is highly recommended.

A trailer must be equipped with brakes that are able to control, stop, and hold the weight, and there must be two separate means of applying the brakes. For lighting, there must be a tail lamp that is mounted on the rear, and it must be visible from 500 feet away. Also, riding in a house trailer is completely prohibited.

Florida

Florida requires towed vehicles to be equipped with brakes that can control, stop, and hold the vehicle under all loading conditions, but pole trailers built before 1972 don’t need brakes. There needs to be two means of applying brakes to the towed vehicle. In addition to the hitch, there needs to be safety chains, chains, cables, or other safety devices connecting the towed and towing vehicles.

Florida has very specific requirements for the colors of lights and where they go, so you can learn more about those here.

For general lighting, Florida requires two (2) tail lamps mounted on the rear visible from 1000 feet, and nothing can obscure this. The license plate needs to be illuminated by a white light. Turning signals are required on every kind of towed vehicle and towed vehicle.

The mirrors of the towing vehicle need to show over at least 200 feet of the road behind.

And while few states even mention speed limitations for trailers, Florida does. This means that in residential areas and business districts, one vehicle towing another can’t exceed 30 mph. At any other time, in any other setting, they cannot exceed 55 mph. On turnpikes and other designated highways, they cannot exceed 65 mph. Additionally, riding is never permitted during the movement of a house trailer.

The towing connection or drawbar needs to be of sufficient strength to pull all the weight being towed and cannot exceed 15 feet. If a connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, a white flag or cloth that is 12 inches square must be attached.

Georgia

The state of Georgia requires breaks on all the wheels on a combination of vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of 3,000 lbs. A safety chain is always required. For every trailer and pole trailer, there must be two (2) tail lights between 20-60 inches from the ground that emit a plain red light visible from 500 feet away. If the view from the rear-facing mirror is obstructed, a mirror must be added to reflect 200 feet of the road behind.

When towing a trailer over 3,000 lbs, the state requires there to be special permits and additional brakes attached. There is also an additional speed limit of 55 and 30 mph in urban and residential districts.

Hawaii

For every vehicle weighing over 3,000 lbs, an independent braking system is required. A ball hitch has to be either mounted or secured to the frame, and a safety chain is required. Trailers are permitted to go the speed limit as posted.

For lighting, two rear reflectors are required, one on the right and one on the left. If the towing vehicle’s stop light is obstructed, one needs to be attached. The plates need to be illuminated, and for vehicles weighing over 3,000 lbs, there must be two (2) front clearance lamps, two (2) side markers on each side (visible 200 feet away), two (2) reflectors on each side, and at least one stop light visible. Another light, on the extreme widths of each side, is also required to be on for 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

Any trailer that is considered an abode is never to be ridden in while moving, and one (1) boat maximum can be towed by passenger or pleasure vehicle.

Idaho

The state of Idaho requires trailers with an unloaded weight of over 1,500 lbs to have braking systems, as well as a breakaway system. The hitch must be secured to the frame, and there is no safety chain required. Side mirrors are required if the rear-facing mirror is blocked.

Trailers can go the speed as posted. Towing vehicles can tow up to two units behind them. As for lighting, the state of Idaho requires every type of trailer or drawn vehicle to have one (1) red rear tail lamp that is visible up to 500 feet away. Vehicles weighing over 3,000 lbs must have two (2) reflectors on the rear and two (2) reflectors on the front (one on each side). And if the stoplight is obscured, an additional one must be attached.

Illinois

Illinois legislature clearly lays out laws for the brakes, hitch system, lighting, mirrors, and riding as it relates to trailers and towed vehicles. For vehicles weighing over 3,000 lbs, there must be a breakaway system, and up until 5,000 lbs, there need to be brakes attached to at least one wheel on each side. For towed vehicles over 5,000 lbs, brakes need to be on all wheels and have an automatic brake system.

The hitch cannot extend more than 4 inches away from the bumper and needs to be accompanied by safety chains along with a coupling bar (drawbar).

The lighting required on towing and towed vehicles includes

  • Two (2) tail lamps that are red and able to be seen from 500 feet away
  • A license plate light that is white
  • Electric turning signals (red or amber) on every trailer or semitrailer that are mounted at the same height and spread as wide as possible

For trailers that are 3,000 pounds or less, two (2) amber reflectors must be mounted on each side of the vehicle no higher than 5 feet. Depending on the trailer, Indiana has more restrictions and regulations on lighting, which you can find here. The rear-facing mirrors must be able to display 200 feet of the road, and there is no riding in trailers permitted on public highways.

Indiana

In Indiana, the brakes on a towing vehicle over 3,000 lbs must be able to control, stop, and hold the weight. The driver must be able to pull the brake and fully stop the vehicle. Double safety chains are required.

For lighting, on the rear, one (1) red tail light must be mounted and visible, and two (2) or more white tail lights need to be mounted between 20-72 inches from the ground. A rear plate light also has to be mounted that is visible from 50 feet away.

A rear-facing mirror or side mirrors need to make 200 feet of the road visible to the driver. Towing vehicles can drive the speed limit posted, and there is nothing said in the Indiana legislature about riding in a towed vehicle.

Iowa

The state of Iowa requires towed vehicles that weigh over 3,000 pounds to have brakes that are able to control, hold, and stop the movement. There must be two separate means of applying the break, and the braking mechanism needs to be present on at least two wheels. The mechanism needs to be designed so that failure doesn’t result in all the brakes failing.

For connecting the vehicles, there must be a drawbar not exceeding 21 feet attaching one vehicle to another. And if the view of the rear is obstructed, side mirrors must be added, but if not towing, they must be removed.

The lighting on vehicles over 3,000 pounds must include two (2) front clearance lamps (if the towed vehicle is wider than the widest parts of the towing vehicle), one (1) side-marker near or at the rear, two (2) reflectors (one near or at the front and one near or at the rear), and one (1) stop light. Iowa requires side mirrors to be added if the rear view is obstructed, and when a vehicle is not towing, side mirrors must be removed.

Additionally, on interstates, trailers cannot exceed 70 mph or whatever speed is posted.

Kansas

Kansas requires a service braking system that can stop the combination of vehicles within 40 feet when moving at 20 mph, and the parking system must be able to hold the vehicle still. The towed vehicle needs to have a safety chain along with the hitch connection.

As for lighting, Kansas has different lighting requirements for different kinds of trailers, so you can find out more in the sources below. For more generic lighting requirements, there needs to be a white light for the license plate and two (2) rear red-colored reflectors. On trailers 80 inches or wider, the front must have two (2) clearance lamps (one on each side), the rear must have two (2) clearance lamps (one on each side), and the side must have two (2) side marker lamps and two (2) reflectors (for both, one needs to be near or at the rear and one needs to be near or at the front.

No trailer can go more than 55 mph, and no one can ride in the trailer if it’s traveling on a public roadway.

Kentucky

Beyond lighting requirements, Kentucky’s legislature doesn’t have much to say about trailer towing. There are no specific laws mentioning brake systems on towed vehicles, but the state does need the vehicle (or a combination of them) to stop. And there is little mention of the hitch or connection beyond the requirement of safety chains.

As for tow lighting, Kentucky changes the exact requirements depending on the class of the vehicle. At the very least, we can say that the towed vehicle must have one light that is amber on the left side that is mounted on the front and visible to oncoming traffic. On the rear, a red light is also required on the left side, but the rear light must be visible 1000 feet away. All semitrailers and trailers need a brake light visible from 500 feet away.

For trailers wider than 84 inches, the lighting requirements include two (2) clearance lights on the left side, one (1) white light on the front that is visible front the front, and two (2) red lights on and seen from the rear (must be visible from 500 feet away).

Louisiana

Surprisingly, Louisiana has a good deal of legislation covering each facet of towing, including brakes, hitch connections, signaling, lighting, and mirror requirements. Each trailer over 3,000 lbs needs to have adequate brakes to control, stop and hold the load. The driver must be able to apply the brakes from the driver's seat. Every trailer built after 1962 needs to have brakes functioning on all the wheels. Any trailer between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds needs to have brakes on at least one axle.

For the hitch, there are no requirements on how the hitch or mount is connected to the car. Any loads under 6,000 lbs need to have a safety chain in addition to a connection. A tow bar is not required. The driver needs to be able to see at least 200 feet of the road behind via the left side mirror, which means the mirrors need to enable that.

The speed trailers can travel is limited based on the type of trailer, meaning that boat trailers may travel the same speeds as passenger vehicles, but house trailers have limitations based on day and night. During the day, they are limited to 55 mph, and during the night, on brake-equipped trailers, between 15-32 feet long, trailers may travel 50 mph. All other trailers are limited to 45 mph.

Lighting requirements are only listed for trailers wider than 80 inches and for those longer than 30 feet. For the first group, the state requires two (2) clearance lamps (one posted on each side), two (2) rear clearance lamps (one posted on each side), two (2) side marker lamps (one near the front and one near the rear), and two (2) reflectors (one near the front and one near the rear).

For trailers 30 feet or longer, one (1) amber side marker and one (1) amber reflector are required to be posted centrally on each side. But no matter what kind of trailer or semitrailer you have, there needs to be a red light mounted on the rear that is visible over 1,000 feet away.

The connection between the two vehicles needs to be less than 15 feet, and if it is made by a chain, rope, or cable, a red flag (12 inches squared) needs to be attached. After sunset, there needs to be a red light on the connection. Riding in a towed vehicle is never allowed, and a max of two trailers may be towed by passenger or pleasure vehicle.

Maine

Maine legislature states that towed vehicles under 3,000 lbs do not need brakes, but those over 3,000 lbs need brakes on all wheels of all axles. A safety chain is required, and it may be in the form of a steel cable, but that cable must be at least ¼ of an inch thick.

The lighting requirements, for trailers seven (7) feet or wider involve rear lights. The trailer will need all the rear lights, reflectors, and signal lights to be within 12 inches of the edge (this does not apply to lights installed by the manufacturer). Trailers that are wider than the vehicle towing must have reflective material or a lamp on each front corner that is visible.

The mirror regulations just require 200 feet of the rear to be visible from the driver’s seat. Additional regulations include the criminalization of riding in moving trailers, only allowing one trailer to be pulled at a time, and limiting the total length of a combination of vehicles to 65 feet.

Maryland

In Maryland, a parking brake is required to hold the weight of the combination of vehicles on any slope or grade. Trailers over 10,000 lbs need to have brakes on all wheels. Trailers under 3,000 lbs do not need brakes on all wheels if the weight of the trailer does not exceed 40% of the gross weight of the towing vehicle. But trailers between three and ten thousand pounds do not need brakes on all the wheels if there are more than two axles. The brakes just need to be on one set.

A towbar is required, and there needs to be means of attaching the bar to the towing vehicle and towing units. There also needs to be safety chains or cables and a locking device to prevent detachment. The lighting requirements depend on the kind of trailer and are extensive. You can find Maryland’s legislature linked below. Also, the state requires two mirrors to be attached to the outside.

Massachusetts

Only trailers weighing over 10,000 lbs need to have air or electric brakes. Massachusetts requires all trailers, except semitrailers, to be connected to towing vehicles with safety chains in addition to the hitch or towbar. All trailers are also required to have two (2) red tail lights, two (2) red stop lights, and one (1) white light illuminating the rear-facing license plate. The only mirror requirement amongst Massachusetts trailer towing laws states that the driver has to be able to see the left side of the vehicle and the road behind.

Michigan

Michigan only requires an independent brake system on trailers over 3,000 lbs. They don’t allow the connection between vehicles to be longer than 15 feet, and the hitch itself cannot protrude more than 3 inches from the towing vehicle. If the connection is made up of chains, ropes, or cables, there needs to be a 12-square-inch red flag attached.

For lighting, the state of Michigan requires one (1) rear red lamp to be visible up to 500 feet away. A rear white light, illuminating the license plate, needs to be visible from 50 feet away. Additionally, the front needs to have two (2) clearance lamps, one on each side. The sides need to have two (2) side marker lamps, one near or at the front and one near or at the rear, and two (2) reflectors, one near or at the front and one near or at the rear. On the rear of the trailer, there need to be two (2) clearance lamps (one on each side), two (2) reflectors, and one stoplight. Mirrors need to be able to give the driver a view of the road behind.

Minnesota

In Minnesota, a trailer that weighs over 3,000 lbs or has a gross weight that exceeds the weight of an empty towing vehicle needs to have brakes that can slow, stop, and hold the weight of the combination of vehicles. If a trailer weighs 6,000 lbs or more, the state requires brakes that can hold even in the event of detachment.

A drawbar cannot be longer than 15 feet, and if the connection is cable, chain, or rope, there must be a white, red, yellow, or orange flag that is 12 inches square attached to the connection.

The trailer needs to have two (2) “properly mounted rear headlamps” that can be visible from 500 feet away and have a minimum of two (2)reflectors mounted 20-60 inches from the ground that are also visible from 50-300 feet away. And if the view of the mirrors is obstructed, an additional mirror needs to be attached to give the driver a view of 200 feet of the road behind.

There are no limitations on trailers or towing regarding speed.

No more than a combination of three vehicles can be on the road together, meaning one vehicle can tow two and no more.

Mississippi

The legislature in Mississippi requires vehicles over one ton to have brakes adequate enough to slow, stop, and hold the full weight of the trailer, and they need to be able to be applied from the cab. A breakaway system also needs to be in place that, even in the event of a disconnect, will be able to be applied.

If a trailer is going to be more than 20 mph, there needs to be a safety chain, chain, cable, or an equivalent device that will act in addition to the regular trailer hitch or coupling. NO more slack can be in the connection than needed to allow for turning and will prevent the drawbar from falling.

As for lighting and signaling, Mississippi requires one rear lamp to be mounted to emit a red light visible from 500 feet away on whichever vehicle is being pulled.

Drivers of towing vehicles need to be able to see 200 feet of the road behind, and trailers cannot exceed 55 mph unless otherwise posted. Also, no more than one vehicle can be towed via a towbar.

Missouri

Missouri’s Highway Patrol is very clear on what is and is not allowed on their roadways. Regarding brakes, they do not require an independent braking system unless there is a kingpin or a fifth wheel involved. They do, however, require safety chains or some equivalent to be paired with a primary coupling system, but that does not apply to fifth wheels either.

As for signaling, each trailer is required to have Two (2) red rear-facing tail lights Two (2) red rear-facing reflectors (may be incorporated into the tail lights) One (1) white light over the rear-facing license plate

Also, turn signals and brakes lights are required if signals by arm or hand can’t be seen, and mirrors need to be attached if the view of the road behind is obstructed.

Montana

Montana’s legislature does not currently have much to say about trailer towing. There are brake requirements such as Any trailer over 3,000 lbs must be equipped with brakes on wheels if the total weight of the trailer(s) does not exceed 40% of the GVW of towing vehicle Vehicles over 3,000 lbs must be equipped with brakes on each wheel that can be enabled immediately and hold for a minimum of 15 minutes in the event of a breakaway

The law allows for a trailer or a pole trailer weighing 3,000 lbs or less to be connected to the towing vehicle using a steel safety chain or cable that is a minimum of ¼ of an inch in diameter.

For signaling, Montana requires trailers weighing over 3,000 lbs to have Two (2) clearance lamps on the front, one on each side Two (2) side markers, one near or at the front and one near or at the front Two (2) side reflectors, one near or at the front and one near or at the front Two (2) clearance lamps on the rear, one on each side Two (2) reflectors on the rear, one on each side

For pole trailers, the state requires one (1) side marker and one (1) clearance lamps on each side and on the rear, two (2) reflectors (one on each side to indicate width). If either a normal trailer or a pole trailer weighs less than 3,000 lbs, then it requires two (2) rear reflectors and two (2) stop lights, one on each side.

Nebraska

Nebraska requires any trailer over 10,000 lbs to have brakes on each wheel that can be activated by the driver. For trailers between 3,000 and 6,500 lbs, brakes are required on two wheels. Trailers above 6,500 lbs need to have brakes on each wheel that are operable from the driver’s seat and can hold in the event of a breakaway.

Safety chains are required in addition to the towbar or hitch connection. Both brake lights and turn signals are required to be mounted and visible from behind. Mirrors also need to allow a view of 200 feet of the roadway behind.

As for speed limitations, a mobile home cannot go more than 50 mph. And the connection between the towing and towed vehicles cannot exceed 15 feet. The connecting device between the two vehicles must have a red flag attached that is 12 inches squared. Finally, if the load extends more than four (4) feet beyond the end of the trailer, there must be a red flag attached during the day and a red light attached through the night.

Nevada

Service brakes are required on all wheels of every trailer built after 1975 weighing more than 1,500 lbs, but not on those built before 1975 weighing less than 3,000 lbs. Also, any trailer built after 1969 that weighs more than 3,000 lbs must have acting brakes on all the wheels that can be applied automatically and hold for at least 15 minutes in the event of a breakaway.

Safety chains are always required, and if the mirrors of the towing vehicle are obscured by the trailer or the load, additional ones must be attached to give the driver a view of 200 feet of the roadway behind.

Signaling is where Nevada’s law can get complicated. First off, pole trailers need to have reflectors, stop lamps, turn signals, and tail lamps, along with one (1) amber side marker lamp and one (1) amber reflector. If the trailer is over 80 inches wide, it needs two (2) clearance lamps (one on each side), two (2) rear clearance lamps (one on each side), three (3) identification lamps, two (2) side marker lamps, and two (2) reflectors.

If the trailer is more than 30 feet long, there needs to be one (1) amber side marker lamp and one (1) amber reflector. Boat trailers are required to have front and rear clearance lamps on each side near or at the center point between the front and rear of the trailer. Reflectors on the rear need to be visible between 100-600 feet, and clearance lamps need to be visible between 50-500 feet.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire requires there to be brakes on the trailer that can control the movement of the vehicle in all conditions. Also, every combination of vehicles moving 20 mph needs to be able to stop within 30 feet. They also state that a ball hitch can be mounted to the bumper or the frame, but a safety chain is always required that is at least equal in strength to the original connection.

No more than one vehicle can be towed at a time, and no riding is ever permitted in towed vehicles. Mirrors are required to give the driver a clear view of the road behind, and if you are towing a mobile home, you can never exceed 45 mph.

When it comes to signals on trailers and towed vehicles, New Hampshire is more specific than most states. They require tail lights and reflectors to be less than 20 inches off the ground and must be positioned to indicate the extreme width of the vehicle. Directional signals are always required, and at night, every trailer shall have one (1) red tail lamp that can be seen from 1000 feet away. A white light needs to illuminate the rear-facing license plate.

For trailers over 3,000 lbs, at night, each side of the trailer needs to have one amber reflector and one red reflector, and both can only sit between 24 and 48 inches off the ground. The visibility of these reflectors can never be hindered.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, trailer towing laws limit the total length of a combination of vehicle to 62 feet. They also require an independent braking system that can be automatically applied in the event of a breakaway on every trailer. They also want to see a braking system that works in unison with the brakes of the towing vehicle. If a trailer weighs more than 3,000 lbs, there need to be brakes on all of the wheels, and the gross weight of a trailer without brakes should not be more than 40% of the weight of the towing vehicle.

If the connection is made via a hitch, there needs to be a chain or cable in addition. The signaling on every trailer needs to include two (2) tail lamps, two (2) stop lamps, two (2) turn signals, and (2) reflectors, one on each side. The mirrors need to allow the driver to have a clear view of traffic behind and on the sides, and a maximum of one (1) boat can be towed at a time.

New Mexico

New Mexico requires any trailer over 3,000 lbs to have brakes, and in a combination of vehicles, there needs to be a way to apply the brakes to the rearmost part of the trailer. The connection between towed and towing vehicles requires safety chains, the hitch to be attached to the frame, and if the trailer is over 3,000 lbs, double the safety chains. If the connection consists of ropes, chains, or cables, there needs to be a white 12-inch square cloth attached.

Signal requirements state that each trailer should have one (1) red tail light visible from 500 feet, one (1) white light illuminating the rear license plate up to 50 feet, two (2) amber clearance mounted on the front with one on each side, two (2) amber clearance lamps, one (1) red or amber stoplight, and one (1) turning side on each side on the front and the back. Also, the mirrors need to give the driver a clear, unobstructed view of at least 200 feet of the road behind.

New York

To connect the towed and towing vehicles, only a device approved by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles can be used. Safety chains are also required, and a ball hitch attached to the bumper is allowed. The state of New York requires there to be tail lights, brake lights, license plate lights, and working turn signals on all trailers. On the rear, a signal lamp must be attached to the end of a combination of vehicles.

If the driver does not have a clear, unobstructed view of the road behind, mirrors need to be attached to enable such a view. The laws specifically mention a left-side mirror that needs to be adjustable.

Other things the laws explicitly mention include brakes, specifying that any trailer over 3,000 lbs has to have adequate brakes, and loose materials, meaning that you cannot travel with materials that could fly away in any trailer that is not sealed or tied to prevent such an occurrence.

North Carolina

If a trailer weighs more than 4,000 lbs, there need to be brakes, and if a house trailer weighs more than 1,000 lbs, there need to be brakes attached. On the connection between the towing and towed vehicle, there need to be safety chains to go with the original connection to hold the trailer in the event of detachment. Only fifth wheels do not require safety chains. North Carolina code requires the connection to be set up in a way that prevents “snaking”.

Trailers can not exceed 55 mph unless otherwise posted, and mirrors can only be added to the towing vehicle if the view is obstructed by the trailer or the load.

For signaling, trailers weighing less than 4,000 lbs do not need additional signaling if the load doesn’t obscure those of the towing vehicle. The same goes for tail lights. But for trailers over 4,000 lbs, there needs to be two (2) clearance lamps on the front, two (2) side markers, two (2) side reflectors, two (2) rear reflectors, two (2) rear clearance lamps, and one (1) stoplight. If the trailer is over 30 feet long AND over 4,000 lbs, there needs to be one (1) amber combination marker lamp on the bottom as close to the center point as possible.

North Dakota

While North Dakota doesn’t have many trailer towing laws, they do have very clear speed restrictions for each kind of roadway. On rural interstates, trailers can go no faster than 75 mph. On non-interstate multilane roads, trailers can go no faster than 70 mph. On two-lane roads, 65 mph is the limit, and if a limit is not posted, a trailer can go no faster than 55 mph.

On the trailer itself, there need to be taillights, brake lights, license plate lights, turn signals, and reflectors. There also needs to be mirrors that can display at least 200 feet of the road to the driver.

The brakes on any trailer that will travel faster than 25 mph must be able to control the load, and they must be able to be activated from the cab. For the connection, there must always be safety chains added, and they must be designed to prevent unintentional coupling.

Ohio

A trailer in Ohio needs to have two (2) red reflectors, two (2) stop lights visible from 500 feet away, one (1) red tail light visible from 500 feet away, and one white light to illuminate the license plate. The only mirror law related to towing states that a left-side rear-view mirror must be attached to the towing vehicle, and the max speed for trailers in Ohio is 55 mph. Riding in trailers is always prohibited unless it is a pickup camper.

If a trailer is over 2,000 lbs, brakes are required. If there is a drawbar, it cannot be longer than 15 feet. If the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there needs to be a display cloth. If there is a fifth wheel involved, there need to be stay chains, and no matter what you are towing, measures need to be taken to prevent both swerving and whipping.

Oklahoma Any trailer over 3,000 lbs needs to have an independent brake system to control, stop and hold the full weight of the trailer. The connection needs to have chains or cables added to prevent disengagement. The trailer towing laws in Oklahoma also mention that steps need to taken to prevent snaking.

For things on the towing and towed vehicles, the mirrors need to give the driver an unobstructed view of 200 feet of the road behind. For any vehicle under 3,000 lbs, there only needs to be two (2) reflectors and one stop light attached if the view of the towing vehicle’s stop light is obstructed. For trailers over 3,000 lbs, there needs to be two (2) front clearance lamps, two (2) side marker lamps, two (2) side reflectors, two (2) rear clearance lamps, and two (2) rear reflectors.

Oregon

In Oregon, safety chains are required, and there always needs to be two connections between towing and towed vehicles. The brakes on the combination of vehicles must be able to stop within legal limits, and parking brakes are required. They also require mirrors to be able to give drivers a view of at least 200 feet of the road behind them.

For signaling, Oregon requires two (2) red tail lights, two (2) brake lights, two (2) rear reflectors, one white rear plate light, and turn signals. On trailers wider than 80 inches, but shorter than 30 feet, there needs to be two (2) front and two (2) rear clearance lights and two (2) front and two (2) rear identification lights. For trailers OVER 30 feet long, there needs to be two (2) front and two (2) rear clearance lights, two (2) front, and two (2) rear identification lights, side marker lights, and side reflectors.

One restriction they have that is unique to Oregon is any trailer over 8,000 lbs can only travel on roads with at least two lanes. Also, riding in any moving trailer is illegal.

Pennsylvania

The connection between towing and towed vehicles needs to 1) have two (2) safety chains attached (crossed and connected) and 2) be no longer than 15 feet, and if it is longer than 5 feet there needs to be a red cloth (during the day) or a red light (at night) attached. Also, the trailer being towed cannot sit more than 6 inches outside the path of the towing vehicle.

The brakes on all trailers need to be able to hold the load under all conditions, and if it is traveling on the highway, the service brake system needs to meet the standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

In Pennsylvania, trailer towing laws require side mirrors to extend 6 inches beyond the width of the towing vehicle or of the load, whichever is larger. They also require trailers on the highway to have a rear lighting system that includes rear lamps, rear reflectors, stop lamps, and license plate lights. But trailers and semitrailers do not need to have headlamps.

The state limitations on speed are only dependent on the type of road you are traveling, so on rural interstate highways, the limit is 65 mph, on local highways in residential districts, the limit is 25 mph, in urban districts, the limit is 35 mph, and at any other location, the limit is 55 mph.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s legislature has little to say about trailer towing laws beyond what is standard in most states. They require signaling in the form of one tail lamp mounted on the rear that emits a red light visible from 500 feet away. The driver must also be able to see at least 200 feet via the mirrors.

When traveling, a trailer can only be in the right lanes on roadways where there are multiple. When it comes to the connection, the drawbar must not exceed 15 feet. And in regards to the brakes needed, if a trailer is over 4,000 lbs, they need to be able to control the movement of the load. The brakes also need to be applicable from the driver’s seat, and if the trailer is new, there need to be service brakes on all the wheels.

South Carolina

A combination of vehicles needs to have service brakes capable of controlling the movement of the vehicle. Any trailer built after 1949 needs to have brakes on all the wheels unless the vehicle weighs less than 3,000 lbs. Also, all the brakes need to be controlled from one device.

If a drawbar is used, it needs to be able to control the load, and it must not be longer than 15 feet. If the connection is made by a chain, rope, or cable, a white flag that is 12 inches squared must be attached. And while moving trailers, specifically manufactured, modular, or mobile homes, they cannot exceed 10 miles below the speed limit posted. In other words, they must always travel at 10 under. Furthermore, when towing a house trailer, it cannot exceed 45 mph.

Every trailer requires certain signaling, including a tail light, license plate light, turn signals, and reflectors. There must also be mirrors that allow the driver a few of the road 200 feet behind.

South Dakota

South Dakota allows a ball hitch to be mounted to the bumper, and secured to the frame, but regardless of how you connect towing and towed vehicles, a safety chain is required. Brakes are required unless the trailer weighs between 3,000 lbs and 7,000 lbs, was made before 1974, and the weight of the towed vehicle doesn’t exceed 40% of the weight of the towing vehicle.

Every trailer or towed vehicle on the road requires two stop lamps, set on the widest point of each side, to be mounted at the same height within 15 and 70 inches off the ground. These stop lamps need to emit red light and be visible from 1000 feet away. If the trailer was built before 1973, only one stop lamp is required.

The restrictions for speed only apply to secondary highways, 65 mph, and interstates, 75 mph. Trailers that will be traveling over 20 mph on any road require safety chains, chains, cables, or an equivalent device in addition to the original connection.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, they require each trailer to have two (2) red tail lamps, two (2) red stop lamps, two (2) amber turning signals, two (2) front amber-colored reflectors on the front corners, two (2) red-colored reflectors in the rear corners, and two (2) rear-facing red reflectors. All rear lamps must be visible from 500 feet away. Mirrors must be able to give the driver a view of the rear, and if towing vehicle’s original mirrors do not provide that view, additional mirrors must be installed.

If the towing vehicle weighs over 3,000 lbs, there must be brakes that can be applied by the driver and are automatic in the event of a breakaway. Also, trailers cannot travel faster than 70 mph on rural interstates.

Texas

If a trailer or a pole trailer is more than 4,500 lbs, brakes are required. If the weight is between 4,500 and 15,000 lbs and will not be traveling faster than 30 mph, the trailer is not required to have brakes. The drawbar or whatever is used to connect towing, and towed vehicles cannot exceed 15 feet unless they are transporting poles, pipes, machinery, or other structural objects that cannot be readily dismembered.

If the connection is made by chain, rope, or cables, there must be a white flag attached measuring 12 inches square. Also, the only way a car or light truck can be allowed to tow a trailer, semitrailer, house trailer, or motor vehicle is with safety chains.

If the view of the rear is obstructed by the towed vehicle or the load, ones must be added to give the driver a clear view of 200 feet of the road behind.

Trailers that sit at the end of a combination of vehicles must have at least two (2) tail lamps, at least two (2) stop lamps, electric turn signals, and at least two (2) reflectors. If a trailer is over 80 inches wide, there needs to be two (2) front clearance lamps, two (2) rear clearance lamps, four (4) side markers, and hazard lamps. If the trailer is 30 feet or longer, there must be two (2) side markers (near or at the cent point), two (2) reflectors (near or at the center point), and hazard lamps.

On a pole trailer, there must be two (2) side markers, one (1) amber combination marker on each side, and one (1) red combination marker on the rear on each side to indicate the width.

Also, no riding is ever permitted in house trailers.

Utah

In Utah, if a load extends more than four (4) feet over the edge of the trailer, the extreme rear must have two (2) red lamps and two (2) reflectors to show off the maximum width from a half hour before sunset and a half hour before sunrise. During the day, a red flag that measures 12 inches square, and needs to be attached to the extreme end of the load. Trailers are also prohibited from using the leftmost lane when more than 3 lanes are moving in the same direction.

On every combination of vehicles, there needs to be a service brake system to stop the combination within 40 feet when it’s traveling 20 mph. Parking brakes also need to be added so that the combination can be held under all conditions.

The connection needs to be supported by safety chains, cables, or an equivalent device. Also, those safety chains need to be connected to the chassis of the towing vehicle, the towed vehicle, and the drawbar to prevent separation and must only have enough slack for turning. The previous safety chain requirements mentioned do not apply to fifth wheels.

For signaling, Utah requires trailers to have tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, two (2) or more red reflectors, and license plate lights. If a trailer is over 80 inches wide, there need to be clearance lights. Mirrors must also be added in the center and the right side to reflect the rear.

Vermont

For towed vehicles weighing less than 3,000 lbs (or less than 40% of the gross weight of the towed vehicle), no brakes are required. If the towed vehicle weighs more than 3,000 lbs, but less than 6,000 lbs, there must be brakes on at least one axle that is able to control the movement and can be applied from the cab. In the event of a breakaway, these brakes must be automatic and stay applied for 15 minutes.

In Vermont, trailers traveling on the highway must have safety chains in addition to the original connection. They also have to have tail lights, brake lights, license plates, turn signals, and reflectors, as well as mirrors that give the driver a clear view of the road behind.

Additionally, each trailer must have one fire extinguisher on hand that is approved by the fire marshal. No riding is ever permitted in moving towed vehicles, and only one boat can ever be towed at one time.

Virginia

Virginia has lighter regulations than most other states. For example, brakes are only needed when the gross weight is over 3,000 lbs. The connection between vehicles cannot exceed 15 feet, and safety chains are always required.

For signaling, Virginia requires one rear red brake light (visible from 500 feet away), one (1) white light illuminating the license plate, and reflectors on the rear. There need to be mirrors attached in a way to give the driver a view of 200 feet of the roadway behind. If the inside mirror’s view is obstructed, one on each side is required.

Also, no riding is ever permitted in moving trailers.

Washington

The state of Washington requires each trailer to have tail lights, brake lights, and license plate lights. The mirrors mounted on the towing vehicle need to give the driver a view of 200 feet of the road behind them. Every combination of vehicles on the road needs to have service brakes able to control the movement of the trailer in any condition or on any grade. Every trailer and pole trailer needs brakes on all the wheels unless they weigh less than 3,000 lbs OR the total weight of the loaded trailer weighs less than 40% of the towing vehicle.

In Washington, safety chains are required in addition to the original connection, and together they must be able to hold the weight at any grade without weaving, whipping, or oscillating. Also, on roads with more than three (3) lanes, the trailer is never permitted to travel in the leftmost lane.

West Virginia

West Virginia has the more strict trailer towing laws, at least when it comes to brakes. For those weighing more than 3,000 lbs, the brakes need to be able to control the weight of the towed vehicle and be applied by the driver. They also have to be automatic in the event of a breakaway. There is a stipulation that requires a way to apply brakes to rearmost in synch with those of towing vehicles, and the combination of vehicles must be able to stop as if on a dry, smooth, and level-free road. This means that if there are brakes on all the wheels, the vehicles must be able to decelerate at 14 feet per second. If there are no brakes, the combination needs to be able to stop within 10.7 feet per second.

In West Virginia, the drawbar or whatever may be used to connect the vehicles cannot exceed 15 feet unless the trailer is transporting structural material that cannot be dismembered. If the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there needs to be a white flag measuring 12 inches square.

They also require each towed vehicle to have tail lights, brake lights, reflectors, license plates, and turn signals (these are only required when the towing vehicle’s turn signals are obstructed). Mirrors are also required if the towed vehicle obstructs the view of the towing vehicle’s mirrors. Also, trailers cannot travel more than 55 mph.

Wisconsin

Towed vehicles that weigh more than 3,000 lbs need to have brakes with the ability to control the movement of the vehicle, but if the weight of the towed vehicle does not exceed 40% of the weight of the towing vehicle there is no need for brakes.

The drawbar or the connection between the towing and towed vehicles needs to be no longer than 12 feet long and used in tandem with safety chains, leveling bars, or cables. Safety chains and other accessories are not necessary with fifth wheels or kingpins.

Signaling laws in Wisconsin depend on the towing vehicle involved and how it measures. If towing a mobile home, trailer, or semitrailer, there must be at least one tail lamp mounted on the rear that is visible from 500 feet away, and if there are two tail lamps attached, both of them have to work. Any towing vehicle built after 1968 must have directional signals on each end visible from 300 feet away. If the trailer is wider than 80 inches, there must be two (2) amber clearance lamps on the front, two (2) red clearance lamps on the rear, and two (2) reflectors on the rear. It should be noted that it is completely illegal to operate a trailer in the darkness that does not have at least one (1) red reflector on each side of the rear.

Wisconsin also has interesting laws on riding in moving trailers. For example, it is unlawful to move a fifth-wheel mobile home if someone under the age of 12 is inside, unless they are accompanied by a person 16 or older. If an adult is riding in the trailer, there needs to be a device providing two-way communication.

If the load in a trailer extends over the edge by four (4) feet, there needs to be a red light or lantern on the extreme rear that is visible from 500 feet away when traveling at night. Additionally, only in specific circumstances can more than one (1) vehicle be towed.

Wyoming

In Wyoming, brakes on the towed vehicle and towing vehicle need to be able to stop the combination within 40 feet when traveling 20 mph on a level, smooth, dry surface. There must also be a parking brake system that can hold the load in all conditions. A ball hitch can be mounted on the bumper in Wyoming, which is something few states allow.

If the towed vehicle measures more than 50 inches tall, the rear needs to have two (2) tail lamps, two (2) reflectors, at least two (2) stop lamps, and electrical flashing turn signals. The mirrors need to be tow mirrors with one mounted on the left, one in the center of the windshield, and if the inside mirror is obstructed, the ride outside mirror is required. Ultimately, the driver must be able to see the rear. Also, the state never permits riding in house trailers.

Trailer Towing Laws by State 2023

Trailer Towing Laws by State 2023

Sources