Trailer Hitch/Signals (Click here for Canada)

United States

Alabama

Drawbar or connection between vehicles must not exceed 15 feet in length; a red flag, other signal, or cloth not less than 12 inches in length and width must be used.

Alaska

A vehicle towed upon a street or highway must be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of a safety chain, chains, cable, or other equivalent device, in addition to the regular hitch or coupling.

  • The additional connecting safety devices must be connected to both the towing and towed vehicles and to the drawbar or other rigid connecting device so as to prevent the device from dropping to the ground in the event of a failure.
  • The additional safety devices must be of sufficient strength to retain control of the towed vehicle in the event of failure.

Arizona

Devices used for towing shall not exceed 15 feet from 1 vehicle to the other.

Arkansas

Connection must be sufficiently strong to pull all weight towed.

Safety chain is required.

12-inch flag or cloth required on connections consisting only of chains, ropes, or cables.

California

Fifth wheel mechanisms and adapters must be equipped with a manual release locking device.

Colorado

Safety chain required. No limitations on hitch except the connections between vehicles must be of sufficient strength to pull all weight being towed.

Connecticut

Every camp trailer is required to be attached by a hitch and shall be coupled to the frame of the towing vehicle by means of a safety chain, chains, cables, or equivalent device which shall be of sufficient strength to control the trailer in event of failure of the regular hitch or coupling.

Delaware

Safety chain is recommended.

District of Columbia

Any time a vehicle is being towed by use of a hitch, safety chains shall also be used to secure the vehicles.

Florida

When a vehicle is towing a trailer or semitrailer by means of a hitch to the rear of the vehicle, there shall be attached in addition thereto safety chains, cables, or other safety devices.

Georgia

Safety chain required.

Hawaii

Ball hitch either mounted on bumper or secured to frame is acceptable; safety chain is required.

Idaho

Hitch must be secured to frame; no safety chain required.

Illinois

Safety chains are required in addition to regular coupling device (drawbar). Trailers of 3,000 to 5,000 lbs. are required to have brakes on only 1 wheel on each side. Trailers over 5,000 lbs. must be equipped with brakes on all wheels and must have automatic breakaway application.

Indiana

Double safety chain required for all trailers; type of hitch not specified.

Iowa

Weight-equalizing hitches that apply leverage by means of spring bars, coil springs, or torsional bars are approved for use with trailers.

5th-wheel types of connections and sway control devices that employ friction, hydraulics, torsional bars, mechanical cams, or electronics are approved to limit side sway.

Kansas

Hitch must be capable of towing the trailer safely, with adequate safety chain. If second towed vehicle is attached, first towed vehicle must have an anti-sway mechanism.

Kentucky

Frame mounted on equalizer type hitch is recommended. Safety chain is required.

Louisiana

No requirements by law as to type of hitch or mount. Safety chains required on all trailers under 6,000 lbs. Tow bar not required.

Minnesota

The drawbar or other connection between the 2 vehicles must not be more than 15 feet.

Mississippi

Every trailer which shall be towed on public highways at a speed greater than 20 mph shall be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of a safety chain, chains, cables, or equivalent devices in addition to the regular trailer hitch or coupling.

No more slack shall be left in any safety chains, cables, or equivalent devices than shall be necessary to permit proper turning. The safety chains, cables, or equivalent devices shall be so connected to the towed and towing vehicles and to the drawbar to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the drawbar fails and shall be of sufficient strength to control the trailer in the event of failure of the regular trailer hitch or coupling.

Missouri

Safety chains or an equivalent device are required in addition to the primary coupling device, except for 5th-wheel or gooseneck-type vehicles.

Maine

Safety chains or steel cable must be made of wire that measures at least 1/4 inch in thickness.

Maryland

Every full trailer shall be equipped with a tow bar and means of attaching the tow bar to the towing and towed units.

The tow bar and means of attaching the tow bar to the units shall be structurally adequate for the weight drawn; be mounted properly and securely, without excessive slack, but with enough play to allow for universal action of the connection; and have a suitable locking device to prevent accidental separation of the towed and towing vehicles.

The mounting of the trailer hitch of the towing vehicle shall include sufficient reinforcement or bracing of the frame to provide sufficient strength and rigidity to prevent undue distortion of the frame.

Every trailer and semitrailer equipped with a tow bar and any special mobile equipment being towed shall be coupled directly to the frame of the towing vehicle with 1 or more safety chains or cables, and the chains or cables shall be connected to the towed or towing vehicle and to the tow bar to prevent the tow bar from dropping to the ground if it fails.

Massachusetts

Every trailer, except a semitrailer, shall, in addition to a regular hitch, be fastened by safety chains to prevent it from breaking away from the towing vehicle.

Michigan

The hitch cannot exceed 15 feet in length from 1 vehicle to the other and may not allow either vehicle to deviate more than 3 inches from the other.

If the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there shall be displayed upon the connection a red flag or other signal or cloth not less than 12 inches both in length and width.

Montana

A trailer or pole trailer with GVW of 3,000 lbs. or less must be equipped with a steel safety chain or cable with a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch must be securely fastened to the towing unit. The safety chain or cable may not be connected to the ball but must be connected to the hitch or other frame member of the towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the ball, socket, or coupler fails.

Nebraska

Safety chains required.

Nevada

Safety chains are required.

New Hampshire

Ball hitch shall be mounted on bumper or secured to frame; safety chain is required.

New Jersey

Trailers shall be connected to the towing vehicle by at least 1 chain or cable, in addition to the hitch bar, of sufficient strength to hold the trailer on a hill if the hitching bar becomes disconnected, or be provided with an adequate device to prevent its rolling backward.

New Mexico

Hitch must be secured to frame; safety chain required; double safety chain required for gross weight in excess of 3,000 lbs.

New York

Device of a type approved by Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Each approved towing system must include safety chains. Ball hitch mounted on bumper permitted.

North Carolina

The towed vehicle, if the primary towing attachment is a hitch, shall also be attached to the towing unit by means of safety chains or cables of sufficient strength to hold the gross weight of the towed vehicle in the event the hitch fails or becomes disconnected.

Trailers or semitrailers having locking pins or bolts in the towing attachment and semitrailers in combination with vehicles equipped with 5th-wheel assemblies, do not need the safety chains or cables.

North Dakota

The drawbar or other coupling device between vehicles, one of which is towing the other, must include safety chains connecting the vehicles. The drawbar, coupling device, and safety chains must be of a design, strength, and construction so as to prevent the unintentional uncoupling of the vehicles.

Ohio

When 1 vehicle is towing another vehicle, the drawbar or other connection may not exceed 15 feet from 1 vehicle to the other.

When the connection consists only of a chain, rope, or cable, there shall be displayed upon such connection a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square.

In addition to a drawbar or other connection, each trailer and each semitrailer which is not connected to a commercial tractor by means of a 5th wheel shall be coupled with stay chains or cables to the vehicle by which it is being drawn.

Every trailer or semitrailer shall be equipped with a coupling device, which shall be so designed and constructed that the trailer will follow substantially in the path of the vehicle drawing it, without whipping or swerving from side to side.

Oklahoma

Every trailer, semitrailer (unless drawn by a truck-tractor), or manufactured home shall be equipped with chains or cables to prevent parting from the towing vehicle in the event that the coupling device breaks or becomes disengaged; or chains, cables, or a safety device that provides strength, security of attachment, and directional stability equal to or greater than that provided by safety chains that prevent the parting from the towing vehicle.

Oregon

Adequate to control trailer under all conditions of varying speeds and weights; 1 safety chain is required on all trailers with 2 connections to the towing vehicle. The tensile strength of the safety chain must equal the gross weight of the trailer.

Pennsylvania

Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball-and-socket type hitch, or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the towbar to prevent the towbar from dropping to the ground in the event the towbar fails or becomes disconnected. The safety chains must have no more slack than is necessary to permit proper turning.

Rhode Island

When 1 vehicle is towing another, the drawbar or other connection must be of sufficient strength to pull the weight towed and must not exceed 15 feet in its span from one vehicle to the other.

South Carolina

Drawbar or other connection must be of sufficient strength to pull all weight towed. Drawbar or other connection must not exceed 15 feet from 1 vehicle to the other except when transporting objects which cannot readily be dismembered. When 1 vehicle is towing another vehicle and the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there must be displayed upon such connection a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square.

South Dakota

Either ball hitch mounted on bumper or secured to frame is permitted; safety chain is required.

Tennessee

Any vehicle being towed by another vehicle must be connected to the towing vehicle with a chain that is reasonably capable of maintaining the attachment of the 2 vehicles in case of failure of any other attachment device.

Texas

The drawbar or other connection between a vehicle towing another vehicle and the towed vehicle must be strong enough to pull all weight towed and may not exceed 15 feet between the vehicles except for the connection between 2 vehicles transporting poles, pipe, machinery, or other objects of a structural nature that cannot be readily dismembered.

A driver towing another vehicle and using a chain, rope, or cable to connect the vehicles must display on the connection a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square.

A driver of a passenger car or light truck may not tow a trailer, semitrailer, house trailer, or another motor vehicle unless safety chains of a type approved by the DPS are attached in an approved manner from the trailer, semitrailer, house trailer, or towed motor vehicle to the towing vehicle.

Utah

Every towed vehicle shall be coupled by means of a safety chain, cable, or equivalent device, in addition to the regular trailer hitch or coupling. The safety chain or cable shall be securely connected with the chassis of the towing vehicle, the towed vehicle, and the drawbar. The safety chain or cable shall be of sufficient material and strength to prevent the 2nd vehicle from becoming separated and shall have no more slack than is necessary for proper turning. The safety chain or cable shall be attached to the trailer drawbar so as to prevent it from dropping to the ground, and to assure the towed vehicle follows in the course of the towing vehicle in the case the vehicles become separated. The requirement for chains or a cable does not apply to a semitrailer having a connecting device composed of a 5th-wheel and kingpin assembly, or to a pole trailer.

Vermont

In addition to a hitch, trailer coaches must be secured to the towing vehicle, while in operation on any highway, by a safety chain. The hitch on any motor vehicle towing a trailer coach and the corresponding coupling on the coach and safety chain must be adequate to ensure the public safety.

Virginia

The connection between any two vehicles, one of which is towing or drawing the other on a highway, shall consist of a fifth wheel, drawbar, trailer hitch, or other similar device not to exceed 15 feet in length from one vehicle to the other. Any such two vehicles shall, in addition to such drawbar or other similar device, be equipped at all times when so operated on the highway with an emergency chain or cable that is structurally adequate to securely stop and hold the trailer being towed.

Washington

A vehicle towing a trailer must use safety chains.

The drawbar or other connection between vehicles in combination must be of sufficient strength to hold the weight of the towed vehicle on any grade where operated. No trailer may whip, weave, or oscillate or fail to follow substantially in the course of the towing vehicle.

Turn signals and reflectors are required.

West Virginia

A drawbar or connection must be of sufficient strength to pull the weight towed and must not exceed 15 feet from one vehicle to another except when transporting poles, pipe, machinery, or other objects of a structural nature that cannot be dismembered.

When a vehicle is towing another, and the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square must be displayed.

Wisconsin

The drawbar or other connection between 2 vehicles may not exceed 12 feet in length.

In addition to the hitch, every towed vehicle must be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of safety chains, leveling bars, or cables. This provision does not apply to a vehicle equipped with a 5th-wheel and kingpin assembly.

Wyoming

Ball hitch mounted on bumper is permitted.

Puerto Rico

Vehicle drawbar or connection for towing or pulling another vehicle must not exceed 15 feet in length.

If towing connection is chain, rope, or cable, it must display red cloth or similar signal that is not less than 12 inches square.


Canada

Alberta

Two separate means of attachment (i.e., tow bar and safety chains) are required so that the failure of 1 will not affect the other.

British Columbia

Must be secured to frame; safety chain required.

Manitoba

A drawbar connection must not exceed 5 meters.

New Brunswick

The drawbar or connection used to tow must not exceed 5 meters from 1 vehicle to another except for vehicles transporting poles, pipes, machinery, or other objects that because of their structure cannot be dismembered.

When a vehicle is towing another and the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, a white flag or cloth not less than 30 cm must be displayed on the connection.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Hitch and safety chain or metal cable equal in strength to the principal coupling device required.

Northwest Territories

A towing vehicle must be equipped with a coupling device in the form of a 5thwheel hitch, pintle hook, drawbar hitch, ball hitch, or other approved coupling device that is designed to support the trailer the person intends to tow.

Any coupling device, other than a 5th-wheel hitch, must be equipped with an alternate coupling device that is designed to support the same weight as the main coupling device.

No person may operate a vehicle equipped with a coupling device unless it is securely mounted to the frame of the vehicle, has no missing or ineffective fasteners, and is free of cracks or breaks in the assembly.

Nova Scotia

Ball hitch mounted on bumper, on 1/2 ton, and 1-ton units is permitted. The drawbar shall not exceed 4.6 meters in length from 1 vehicle to the other vehicle. Safety chains are required.

Nunavut

A towing vehicle must be equipped with a coupling device in the form of a 5thwheel hitch, pintle hook, drawbar hitch, ball hitch, or other approved coupling device that is designed to support the trailer the person intends to tow.

Any coupling device, other than a 5th-wheel hitch, must be equipped with an alternate coupling device that is designed to support the same weight as the main coupling device.

No person may operate a vehicle equipped with a coupling device unless it is securely mounted to the frame of the vehicle, has no missing or ineffective fasteners, and is free of cracks or breaks in the assembly.

Ontario

Two separate means of attachments required; so constructed and attached that the failure of 1 such means will not permit the motor vehicle, trailer, object, or device being drawn to become detached.

Prince Edward Island

When 1 vehicle is towing another with a drabber, ball hitch, or other type of utility trailer hitch, the connection must be of sufficient strength to pull all the weight being towed. Also, the combination of vehicles must be connected with at least 2 safety chains of equal length, and each chain must be of sufficient strength to hold the vehicles together in case the connection between the vehicles breaks or is accidentally disconnected.

Quebec

Every trailer operated without an independent brake system adequate to stop the vehicle if the trailer becomes separated from the towing vehicle must be equipped with chains, cables, or any other safety device that is sufficiently solid and installed to ensure that the trailer and towing vehicle remain attached in the event of a failure in the attachment devices. The towing vehicle must carry the necessary equipment for attaching the chains, cables, or safety device of any trailer being towed.

No person may pull a trailer without using an adequate coupling device. The lights, raking system, chains, cables, and any other safety device on the trailer must be connected to the towing vehicle and in proper working condition.

Saskatchewan

Must be connected by a safe clevis or catch. Ball hitch mounted on bumper permitted up to 1400 kg; safety chain required. Hitch must be rated for the combined weight of trailer(s) and contents. Two safety chains must cross under the hitch.

Yukon

Hitch must be secured to frame. Safety chain is required.