Every state has its own trailer towing rules, Texas included. Whether you live and travel in Texas or are crossing the Lone Star State border from a neighboring state, anyone traveling in Texas will need to comply with laws for towing of boat or camper trailers, tow bars for pulling vehicles or any other kind of trailer that can be towed behind a vehicle.
Height, Length, Width and Weight Restrictions
The proportions of the trailer being towed are critical parts of Texas towing laws. Trailers can be a maximum of 14 feet high, 8-1/2 feet wide with a combined length--the length of the trailer plus the vehicle towing it--of 65 feet. The weight of the trailer axle cannot exceed 20,000 pounds, and the gross vehicle weight--the permissible maximum weight of the vehicle and trailer loaded for travel--is 80,000 pounds.
Certain safety measures are required when towing a trailer. For instance, safety chains must attach the trailer to the vehicle towing it. In fact, in Texas, two chains are required to prevent the breakaway of the trailer from the vehicle. These chains must be strong enough to support the gross weight of both the trailer and its load. These chains or cables must also prevent the tow bar from dropping if it fails for some reason.
There are no laws governing fire safety; a fire extinguisher isn't required by law to be on the trailer. There are also no brake requirements for vehicles being towed, but trailers 4,500 pounds and heavier are required to have a braking system.
Licensing and Speed Restrictions
Vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds that are towing a trailer weighing 10,000 pounds or more require the driver to hold a Class B Non-CDL (Commercial Drivers License). Drivers handling trucks, trailers and loads of these weights, and especially if hauling hazard materials, will need to obtain a CDL license through a three-part skills exam that tests the driver's ability to competently handle the vehicle. Drivers holding a Texas CDL must live in Texas and may not hold a drivers license of any kind in another state.
Trailers meeting the dimensions, the weight and safety restrictions that require a Texas CDL are limited to a maximum towing speed of 70 mph. In areas where posted truck speeds are less than 70 mph, especially posted night time speed limits, which are often 60 to 65 mph, the driver should drive the posted limit and not the 70 mph maximum.
Greater speed limit restrictions don't exist, regardless of trailer and load weight.
Drawbars and Trailer Hitches
Any trailer hitch or drawbar must be strong enough to pull the weight and may not exceed 15 feet between the vehicles. Any time a vehicle is towing a trailer, other vehicle or boat and a chain is used, the driver must tie a 12-inch square of white fabric to the vehicle.
- Photo Credit boat trailer image by wiladayvo from Fotolia.com
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