Towing, Trailer Laws Updated
Missouri Highway Patrol officers this month are emphasizing current and updated regulations for trailer and towing laws. Did you know Missouri has no restrictions to prevent persons from riding in a trailer or camper while in motion on the highway?
Eureka and Wildwood residents certainly see plenty of camping trailers and other hauling devices zoom through the area on Interstate 44. The following tidbits highlight what regulations should be governing them.
Missouri law requires motor vehicles being towed by a towline not be separated more than 15 feet. In addition to the towline, a safety chain or device is required. When being towed at night, lawful lights must be displayed on the tow vehicle and the vehicle being towed.
Missouri Revised Statute 307.170. 6. states:
When one vehicle is towing another, the connecting device shall not exceed 15 feet. During the time that lights are required by sections 307.020 to 307.120, the required lights shall be displayed by both vehicles. Every towed vehicle shall be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of a safety chain, cable, or equivalent device in addition to the primary coupling device, except that such secondary coupling device shall not be necessary if the connecting device is connected to the towing vehicle by a center-locking ball located over or nearly over the rear axle and not supported by the rear bumper of the towing vehicle. Such secondary safety connecting devices shall be of sufficient strength to control the towed vehicle in the event of failure of the primary coupling device. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to wreckers towing vehicles or to vehicles secured to the towing vehicle by a fifth-wheel type connection.
These provisions do not apply to farm implements, or to any vehicle that is not required to be registered.
License Plates – The tow vehicle must display a valid license plate. License plates are not required on motor vehicles being towed.
Tow Bars – Not required in Missouri, but recommended.
Speed – The speed is regulated by the speed limit for the tow vehicle.
Taillights – Each trailer must display (on the rear) two red taillights, two red reflectors, and a white license plate light. The reflectors may be incorporated in the taillights.
Safety Chains (Or An Equivalent Device) – Are required in addition to the primary coupling device, except for farm equipment, wreckers, fifth-wheel or gooseneck type vehicles, and vehicles being towed that are not required to be licensed.
Trailer Brakes – Trailer brakes are required on trailers coupled by a fifth wheel and kingpin, and on trailers hauling hazardous materials with a gross weight exceeding 3,000 pounds.
Break-Away Switch – No Missouri law requirement: However, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 393.43 paragraph (d) states every trailer required to be equipped with brakes shall be equipped with brakes of such character as to be applied automatically and promptly upon breakaway from the towing vehicle. Brakes must maintain application on the trailer in such case for 15 minutes.
Brake Lights And Directional Signals – These signals are required if visible signals cannot be given by arm and hand; or when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body, cab, or load exceeds 24 inches; or when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the rear limit of the body or load exceeds 14 feet. This applies to single vehicles or a combination of vehicles.
Riding In A Trailer Or Camper – Missouri has no restriction to prevent persons from riding in a trailer or camper while in motion on the highway.
Width – Vehicles may be operated on the interstate highways (and other highways designated by the Missouri Department of Transportation), plus 10 air miles there from, with a maximum width of 102 inches. All other highways permit a maximum width of 96 inches. Updated Aug. 6 as of 7:57 p.m.: Kevin Kelley, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the new width for vehicle operation on highways is 102 inches, rather than be restricted to 96.
Height – All vehicles traveling Missouri interstate and specially designated highways (plus a distance of 10 air miles there from) can have a maximum height of 14 feet; 13 1/2 feet on all other highways. Automobile haulers are allowed 14 feet on all highways.
Length – The maximum length for a single motor vehicle, including load, is 45 feet; recreational vehicles may be 45 feet; for truck-tractor and semi-trailer units a maximum of 60 feet (except on interstate and designated highways plus 10 air miles there from, no overall length but the trailer and load cannot exceed 53 feet); and for all other combinations of vehicles the maximum length is 65 feet on the primary and interstate highways plus 10 air miles there from, otherwise the maximum length for other combinations of vehicles is 55 feet on all other highways.