Using Trailers And Hauling Big Loads In Texas
Even in the 21 st Century, trucks remain a vital and integral part of the American economy. Many people throughout our state use trucks and trailers to transport or haul commercial goods, equipment, and even contraband, across Texas. For recreation purposes, many individuals can use trailers to haul personal property like boats, ATVs, etc., year-round in Texas because of the moderate weather.
In relation to the use of trucks and trailers on Texas roads, I’m often asked the following two questions by clients:
- When hauling some load in a truck which protrudes or sticks out more than a foot, is some warning device like a flag required?
- When must trailers be equipped with lights rather than just reflectors?
A trailer is a non-motorized vehicle pulled by an automobile. A motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer, or vehicle that is towed at the end of a combination of vehicles must be equipped with at least two taillamps. Besides having tail lights on the rear, they must have a red reflector on each side, one brake light on each side, left and right electric turn lights, and one white license plate light.
1. When hauling some load in a truck which protrudes or sticks out more than a foot, is some warning device like a flag required?
A vehicle transporting a load that extends to the rear at least four feet beyond the bed or body of the vehicle must display the following required lighted lamp and illuminating devices on the extreme end of the load both at nighttime and when light is insufficient or atmospheric conditions are unfavorable so that a person or vehicle on the highway is not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead:
- two red lamps visible at a distance of at least 500 feet from the rear;
- two red reflectors that indicate the maximum width and are visible at nighttime at all distances from 100 to 600 feet from the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps; and
- two red lamps, one on each side, that indicate the maximum overhang and are visible at a distance of at least 500 feet from the side.
Otherwise, at all other times, a vehicle transporting a load that extends beyond the vehicle’s sides or more than four feet beyond the vehicle’s rear must display red flags that are at least 12 inches square, mark the extremities of the load; and be placed on the extreme end of the load.
2. When must trailers be equipped with lights rather than just reflectors?
The requirements in Texas for motorists using trailer lights vary according to the trailer’s weight and size. Those measuring less than 80 inches wide and 30 feet long are not required to have lights or reflectors on their front or sides . On the rear , they are required to have tail lights, one white license plate light, a red reflector and brake light on each side, and left and right electric turn lights.
A trailer that is at least 80 inches wide must be equipped with hazard lamps, front clearance lamps on each side; rear clearance lamps on each side; side marker lamps, 1 on each side at or near the front and rear of the vehicle; and reflectors , 1 on each side at or near the front and rear of the vehicle. Trailers exceeding 80 inches in width are also required to have hazard lights, an amber reflector on each side near the front, a red reflector on each side of the rear, clearance lights on the front and rear, and side marker lights on the front and rear.
A trailer that is at least 30 feet long must be equipped with hazard lamps, side marker lamps centrally mounted on each side; and reflectors , centrally mounted on each side. Trailers measuring 30 feet or more in length must meet these standard requirements as well as display hazard lights , an amber reflector on each side in the center, a red reflectoron each side of the rear, and a marker light centered on each side.
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