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York, NY 14592-0260


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) Pertaining to Tow Vehicle

These rules apply to everyone and are critical to commercial carriers. Who is a commercial carrier? You, if making money (revenue is done by use of a motor vehicle on the highway directly or indirectly)

These standards are established by the Federal Government. Enforced by local and State police. All motor vehicle manufactures (including trailers) must follow and conform to these minimum standards. The trailer industry has two associations to assist them, The North American Trailer Dealers Association (NATDA) and North American Trailer Manufactures (NATM).

The standards apply to lighting, tires, frame, coupling devices, safety equipment, dimensions and weight ratings. Below is a short list of items to be mindful of.

  • Tow hitch rating should be equal to or greater than what you are towing.
  • Inspect hitches for wear and corrosion periodically, check hardware be sure it is tight
  • All lights must work
  • Mirrors must be sufficient to see behind your cargo
  • Vehicle Markings, DOT Number & Company Name
  • State Safety Inspection Certificate
  • Registration Certificate
  • Insurance ID Card
  • Commercial Safety Triangle Set
  • Commercial Fire Extinguisher
  • Commercial Driver License, Class D or Higher
  • Log Book (certain commercial only)
  • Spare tire, jack and tools needed (commercial)
  • Driver should be trained and educated for task

To gain further information on any of these short list items refer to the Federal Motor Carriers website or a firm such as JJ Keller. The local DMV office also can provide details but limited to driver qualifications. Please feel free to contact me or one of my staff or look for one of our training seminars put on by the State DOT police.