The Washington State Patrol determines and enforces laws for trailer towing in Seattle and throughout Washington and puts specific requirements in place for homemade trailers. These rules help to increase safety and prevent accidents. They also help to minimize delays during transit due to malfunctioning equipment. Washington’s rules regulate trailer dimensions, weight, hitch features, safety chains, and licensing. By carefully familiarizing yourself with the rules for towing a trailer you not only avoid fines and potential impoundment but also accidents in which you could be held liable.
The allowable length and width measurements of trailers help to ensure safe travel and correspond with the average width of roads and freeway lanes within the state. Washington State Patrol allows trailers of up to 53 feet in length. In some circumstances, trailers can be up to 56 feet long with a special permit. A truck and trailer together cannot exceed a total length of 75 feet. Trailers can be up to 8 feet, 6 inches in width. Trailers with their loads in place cannot exceed heights of 14 feet.
Washington State regulations allow load weights of up to 20,000 pounds for trailers pulled by single-axel vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs. Dual-axel vehicles may pull trailers of up to 34,000 pounds. Because tire size is important in safely towing trailers, the weight limit for loads corresponds to tire size. The state’s regulations allow 600 pounds of weight per inch of tire width.
Trailer hitch ball regulations depend on what type of trailer a vehicle is towing. Class types coincide with the weight of the trailer. The regulations for trailer hitches are as follows:
Washington State Patrol also regulates safety chain requirements for chains extending from the trailer neck to the hitch on a vehicle. For pulling a class 1 trailer, the safety chain must have a 2-ton rating. Class 2 trailers require a 1.75-ton rating, and class 3 trailers require a chain with a 2.5-ton rating. The rating requirements are the same for hook and eye attachments.
When towing a trailer, drivers must understand they have a duty of care to prevent accidents by taking extra precautions, adjusting their driving appropriately to compensate for the extended length, and carefully monitoring speed so as not to present a hazard to other drivers on the road. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a car that was towing a trailer, contact a Seattle car accident lawyer to explore your legal options. You may be able to recover financial compensation.
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