Texas Trailer Laws
Hundreds of drivers in Texas pull trailers of all sizes behind their cars to carry vehicles, cargo, equipment and livestock. Unfortunately, not all of these drivers are careful or prudent in how they load, attach and handle their trailers. This can lead to car accidents caused by negligent trailer owners. All drivers must obey Texas’ trailer laws to ensure roadworthy vehicles and prevent devastating accidents.
Trailer Registration Is Required
If you plan on pulling a trailer (other than a farm trailer) while operating on a public highway in Texas, the law requires you to register your trailer. The registration and titling requirements vary based on whether you are pulling a manufactured or homemade trailer. In addition, the requirements change according to the gross weight of your trailer. Determine the type and weight of your trailer to find out if it needs to have a registration.
Searching for a manufacturer’s name on the trailer tongue to see if it’s manufactured. If you aren’t sure about the specifications of your trailer, schedule an appointment with an auto theft law enforcement officer by contacting the tax assessor-collector office in your county for assistance. If your trailer does have to be registered, you will need to fill out the application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U), provide proof of ownership, and pay the fee.
Special License Required for Trailers Over 26,000 Pounds
In Texas, pulling a trailer that weighs 25,999 pounds or less is allowed with a standard class A driver’s license. If your trailer weighs 26,000 pounds or more, however, a special license known as a class-B noncommercial driver’s license is required. You will need to fulfill certain requirements to obtain this license, such as passing a written and/or driving test.
Annual Safety Inspections
If your trailer’s gross weight exceeds 7,500 pounds, it must pass an annual safety inspection. An inspector will assess whether your trailer meets the state’s safety requirements once per year. You may be asked for information such as your trailer weight certificate or a photo of your trailer for the inspection. If you fail the inspection, you must make the necessary repairs or changes before you can travel with the trailer on a public road.
Trailer Towing Laws
Safely towing a trailer, RV or camper requires adherence to several related Texas laws. First, trailers may not exceed the following dimensions: 14 feet in height, 8.5 feet in width and 45 feet in length. The combined length of the vehicle and the trailer may not exceed 65 feet. Second, trailers must have all required safety equipment. This includes:
- A connection that is strong enough to pull the weight of the trailer.
- A white flag or cloth highlighting the tow bar.
- Sufficient safety chains connecting the vehicle and trailer.
- Flares or warning signs.
- Trailer turn signals, brake signals and taillights.
- Breakaway devices on trailers weighing over 3,000 pounds.
- Electric brakes on trailers weighing over 4,500 pounds.
The connection between the vehicle and trailer must be safe and strong. For example, no vehicle can tow more than three other vehicles behind it using the saddle-mount method, which mounts a vehicle’s front wheels on another vehicle’s bed. Finally, any driver who is towing a trailer in Texas must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 70 mph on the interstate during the day and 65 mph at night. If the trailer is more than 26 feet long, these speed limits drop to 60 mph during the daytime and 55 at night.
What to Do if You’re Involved in a Trailer Accident
If you get into a traffic accident in Texas that involves someone pulling a trailer – whether the trailer is yours or another driver’s – contact an attorney right away for legal advice. You may be entitled to financial compensation from one or more insurance companies. An accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and pursue maximum compensation against an at-fault party after a trailer accident.