Let’s face it, sometimes you need to be able to pull 2 trailers behind one vehicle.
For example, you might want to tow a boat and a vehicle behind your RV.
Or maybe you’d like to tow a camper and a boat behind your vehicle. Maybe you have a toy hauler filled with ATVs, bicycles, motorcycles, etc. and you’d like to tow it along with another trailer to your destination.
The point is… there are times when just one trailer isn’t enough for everything you’d like to bring along with you!
Here’s some good news: in many states it’s legal to tow 2 trailers at the same time.
Triple towing is allowed in the following states:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Exceptions To The Rule
Of course, nothing is ever straightforward and simple though.
Many of these states have a variety of restrictions which could still hamper your ability to tow two trailers.
For example, some states limit total length of all 3 units to 65 feet. In some instances, the limit is 70 feet or 75 feet total length.
In some states, triple towing is restricted to adding the second trailer only behind a 5th wheel trailer.
Many states limit the second trailer to recreational equipment, such as a boat, snowmobile, or ATV 4-wheelers.
In California you even need a special endorsement on your drivers license to tow any trailer over 10,000 lbs or to drive a motorhome that is over 40 feet in length.
Rules For Commercial Trucks vs Recreational Vehicles
As far as state DMVs go, the world of recreational vehicles and the world of commercial trucking are 2 separate entities.
Some states allow “double bottom,” “triple,” or however you wish to label a situation where you have 2 trailers hooked behind one tow vehicle in the commercial truck classifications. But, you must realize that that these rules may not cross over to the recreational vehicle world.
Commercial triples are set up such that the air brake system continues on through all 3 pieces. The second trailer rides on a 5th wheel dolly, not a 2-inch chrome ball purchased at the local hardware store. Therefore, when commercial trucks apply the brakes, all wheels will apply at the same time with equal pressure.
On the other hand, recreational vehicles may have air brakes on the motorhome, electric brakes on the first trailer, and in many cases no brakes at all on the third item being towed.
To that end, the federal D.O.T. doesn’t want any part of regulating non-commercial situations. So, they leave it completely up to each state to set their own limitations. Just remember, seeing a semi truck pulling 2 trailers on or near an interstate highway does NOT mean you’re good to go with more than one trailer.
Triple Towing Laws By State
There are 2 websites that list information pertaining to trailer towing rules and regulations for all states:
- Woodall’s Rules of the Road – This site appears to have the most information. In fact, it provides more information beyond simply whether triples are allowed or not. As an example, here in Minnesota triples are allowed, but the second trailer must be recreational equipment such as a boat, snowmobile, or ATV 4-wheeler.
- Towing World – This site provides a good chart, but it is missing some important information.
- Online Towing Guide – This site summarizes state towing laws across the U.S.
Of course, these resources should be looked at as basic guidelines. Keep in mind that laws change and information can get mixed up in translation. The only way to get completely accurate information about triple towing is to contact the Department of Transportation or Highway Patrol offices for your state and any states you plan on traveling through.
If you do consider towing 2 trailers, be sure to follow all regulations and safety measures! You will be accepting a whole new level of responsibility with that second trailer. Your ability to maneuver in close spaces (or to stop safely) may be reduced considerably. One thing’s for sure, you can forget about backing up with this combination! Getting everything to turn the way you want in a triple-tow configuration will be next to impossible.
Here’s what you really need to know about how to drive an RV when you’re towing a trailer.