Triple towing: Is it legal? Is it safe? Should you do it?

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Photo Credit: Crappie.com forum

By Gail Marsh
The good news? We planned to travel to a warmer climate for the winter! The bad news? The transporter who had agreed to take our motorcycle to Florida backed out at the last minute. We really didn’t have the time to investigate another carrier, but we did consider triple towing.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “triple towing,” you’re not alone. The term refers to pulling two trailers behind your tow vehicle. (It’s also sometimes called “double towing.”) We considered purchasing a trailer and transporting the motorcycle on our own. Here’s what we found out:

Is it legal?

  • Some states allow triple towing. Others do not. Here is a list of states that currently allow triple towing: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah.
  • Laws change, so it’s best to call the DMV and/or Highway Patrol for each state you’ll drive through. (Or check out their websites.) Tickets can be expensive. That’s bad enough, but you might end up having to make two trips to get the second trailer to your destination.
  • In the states that allow triple towing, there may be a maximum length limit. This limit includes the tow vehicle plus additional add-ons.
  • The speed limit for triple towing can vary from state to state. In addition, speed limits within one state may vary too.
  • Keep in mind that all states have weight limitations. Know your total weight before you start out!
  • Some places (like Michigan and California) require you to have a special endorsement on your driver’s license to triple tow. Again, know before you go!

Is it safe?

  • Starting and stopping times will take longer when triple towing. Factor this in. Maintain extra space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Give yourself extra room and time when merging into the flow of traffic.
  • The extra weight of add-ons will put additional stress on your braking system. Safety chains and/or breakaway brakes are recommended.
  • It may be more difficult to see behind you when triple towing. Make sure to extend rearview mirrors. Consider purchasing a rear camera for better visibility.
  • Each towable will need proper registration along with illuminated license plates.
  • Make sure all brake lights and turn signal lights are working. Put safety reflectors on the sides of all trailers so others will see the total length of your rig and towables.

Is triple towing for you?

  • This is a personal decision based on your driving experience, ability, and comfort level. If you’re not sure, take a test drive on a quiet road. See how the towables react when you change lanes, brake, accelerate, and more. Drive at a variety of speeds to test the overall stability of the triple tow. Try driving at the maximum speed you expect to maintain while on the road to determine the speed you’re most comfortable driving.
  • Think about your planned route. Can you adjust it to avoid big cities during rush hour? Would a revised route avoid sharp turns or narrow roads?
  • Be sure your overnight stays provide a spot that is long enough to accommodate your extended rig. Also, double-check that overnight campground guarantees a pull-through spot. Backing up with additional towables is next to impossible for most of us.

In the end, we decided against triple towing. (It’s illegal in Florida anyway.) We have until next year to decide how to get our motorcycle to Florida. There are options. Some people purchase a toy hauler to transport their “extras.” While that’s a bit too much for our budget, we can afford to look into a hitch mount that fits directly on the back of our RV. One way or another we’ll get that motorcycle to Florida!

##RVT990

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larry
1 month ago

please get your wording correct.

triple towing is pulling Three trailers.

with the correct dl, correct tow truck, one can legally tow two trailers in all fifty states.
pending local “safety” rules.( ca is only 65 foot long) ( some bridges-tunnels prohibit even semis from pulling doubles) your combined set up must never be longer than 75 feet long (fed rules). your truck must have the correct gvwr, and all axles must have brakes. and all the correct safety rules as stated by the DOT.

rick Offord
1 month ago

I would be interested in knowing if a single-wheeled extension platform that connects with two connection points is considered to be “triple or double towing”. The advantage to that kind of connected platform is that any weight is mostly being born by the single wheel and it will not jack-knife when reversing the fifth-wheel or trailer it is attached to.

Dennis L Wahl
1 month ago

Need better definition. “triple” in CA is semi tractor with three trailers, including the one on the king pin. This is ILLEGAL in CA, even with commercial license. Check out the yard at CA/NV border alongside I-15; Lots of triples in the lot, broken down to doubles to proceed into CA.
However, truck hauling two trailers is legal, i.e, pickup, trailer, boat trailer. Need commercial license or endorsement. Max length 65 feet.

Craig
1 month ago

What about reciprocity? I’m from CA, have the commercial Class A with the doubles/tripples endorsement and have double towed in CA. My understanding is that even if a ‘state A’ doesn’t allow for this, a driver from ‘state B’ where it’s allowed could haul doubles in ‘state A’ if ‘state B’ has a reciprocal agreement with ‘state A’.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Craig

Not true. I don’t know of any reciprocity rules that allow someone from out of state to do something in the state in question that residents OF that state CAN’T do. Take for instance, try carrying your handgun into CA because you have a CCW permit from NV.

Retired Firefighter Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Craig

Reciprocity applies to things like a license plate. [I know that in 1982 a trailer under 3,000 pounds did not need a license plate.] Florida could not require me to get a license plate to the reciprocity agreement. A local cop did issue a ticket to me for no trailer license. Stopping at a local State Patrol office was beneficial. They copied the Wisconsin law about trailer weight and the chapter about reciprocity. They also directed me to a local scale and I should tell the operator “officer so-and-so sent me.” [No charge for the certified scale weight ticket!] I mailed that with my ticket to the municipal judge as my defense and the ticket was voided. I doubt if this would apply to a double- or triple-trailer tow.

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 month ago

Got to love those who tackle this. No doubt, more states will take this away from us as time goes on.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I’ve seen these “Swivel Wheel Trailers” in Quartzsite and wondered if I could get one to hook to my travel trailer. It would save us the problem of having to take two vehicles with two trailers any time we want to bring our RZR along on a trip. We’re not buying a toy hauler – ever. One gentleman told us a guy in Lake Havasu builds really good units but I’ve never contacted him. I guess I’m getting lazy in my old age . . .

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I saw one of these units in FL hauling a Harley Road King, it had 2 swivel wheels under it. The owner said it works perfect, the wheels carry most of the weight, it attaches with 2 hitch points to the frame not the bumper and had a 1800 lb carrying capacity. It backs up with no turning problems, he loved it.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

The two guys I’ve met who have these types of rigs both raved on and on about them. I’m envious! But I’m not sure if my two-seater RZF would fit. I’m glad I didn’t buy one of those four-seaters!

Donald E Baker
1 month ago

How about towing a vehicle (Jeep Wrangler) with a Blue Ox hitch and a trailer with a ball hitch behind that?

Jon
1 month ago

Your terminology is a problem. Although your conclusion about what you want to do may be correct, ask any trucker what a “triple” is and you will be told that is when you are hauling THREE trailers and the list of states where that is legal may be even shorter. What you are talking about is “doubles“.

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Yep!

Dave J
1 month ago

I should have read the comments first. I see Dale and Robert already covered the swivel wheel units. I bought one from them and also purchased an additional set of receivers to have them mounted on the rear of my pickup for when our off road group decides to tow 50-75 miles before unloading to head up into the mountains. This way I dont have to break camp and drag the RV along for an afternoon’s ride.

Dave J
1 month ago

Triple Tows. Another way to get the toys to your destination is a swivel trailer. They are not actually a traditional trailer but rather a flexible platform that is attached in two points to the rear of your 5er becoming a legal portion of the 5er itself (in all states except NY, go figure). These platforms have one or two swivel wheels under them to take the additional weight of the toy. You in effect turn your RV into an open bay “toy hauler”.

Robert
1 month ago

Can a D.P. with 2 cars using 2 tow bars be legal?

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

No, not unless the first connection is with a 5th wheel, do you want to drive you DP around with a 5th wheel hitch hanging underneath connected permanently to the frame like a car transporter, that’s the law the first connection must be done using a 5th wheel hitch.

Bob P
1 month ago

Just about every state that allows this has the stipulation that the first trailer must be attached with a 5th wheel hitch, you can’t double/triple tow using 2 ball type connectors.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

“you can’t double/triple tow using 2 ball type connectors”.

Not true. You can do it here in NV, and UT allows it as well (at least last time I checked at the NV/UT port of entry 10 years ago). I towed our travel trailer with an ATV trailer attached here in NV for years. Once we bought a new trailer though, it is heavier and longer so we can no longer do that. The law in NV is 70′, 65′ in UT. The UT port of entry told me if I was longer than 65′, no problem, just buy an over-length permit.

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Have you inquired what an oversized permit costs these days?

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

No, I haven’t Bob. That was easily 10-15 years ago when I was still working. Plus, back then we were towing an open 2-ATV trailer. Much shorter and lighter than our current enclosed RZR trailer. As I mentioned, UT just wanted more money for the permit, which you could purchase for a day, a week, a month, or a year.

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I stand corrected for these two states as I’ve never towed doubles in either one.

larry
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

in ca NO “extra legal” permit can be gotten if the load can be reduced.

Crowman
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

They dropped the 5th wheel hitch requirement about 20 years ago. Been towing DOUBLES not triples you don’t count your truck as a trailer.

matski
1 month ago

A truck pulling a 5th wheel with a smaller trailer attached to the rear of the 5th wheel is called double towing not triple towing. You are towing two trailers not three.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  matski

Yeah, where did ‘triple’ come from? If towing 2 things is triple towing, then towing one thing would be double towing, and nobody calls it that.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Robert Kurtz
1 month ago
Reply to  matski

The company Dale Rose was referring to is swivelwheel.com located in Katy, Tx. I currently use a SWIVELWHEEL tandom behind my motorhome to tow my Goldwing trike and Fiat 500.

Dale Rose
1 month ago

One way that a motorcycle can be towed is on a swivel wheel trailer. It has 2 points for hooking up to the rear of a fiver, and since it doesn’t use a ball and coupler, they are legal to pull, because it’s considered a part of the fiver. They make them with 1 or 2 swivel wheels. I can’t remember what the name of them is.

Rick M
1 month ago
Reply to  Dale Rose

Idaho Tote is one brand