The following equipment, documentation and regulations again are established primarily by the federal government. In our state (New York) some of these are state specific only. State laws can only ever be more stringent than federal, never less or below.
Light trailers, DMV class code of LTR are really quite simple and basic. These require a highway approved coupling device (ball or pintle eye) Safety chains, (any flexible link rated to handle gross weight of trailer and cargo). Highway approved tires with DOT stamp, high speed wheel bearings and hubs, fender covering tire to prevent flinging of debris, front corner marker lamps amber color, stop turn and tail lamps must be red. For trailers that have a width greater than 80” wide a “triple light” must be installed at the rear center. There are specific dimensions that must be followed. Also for 80” and over, overall width marker lights must be installed amber to front and red to rear. This is usually on the fenders, again must be wide as feasible. Reflectors or reflective lenses must be used for all lights. If converting a trailer from incandescent lamps to LED use caution as many of these do not comply with the reflective requirement. The license plate must also be illuminated. This class of trailer must weigh less than 1,000 empty, max gross of 3,000#.
All highway use vehicles must be registered (all trailer registrations expire December 31 in NY State. Renewal by mail is only a courtesy of DMV not a requirement) plated and have an annual safety inspection certificate. The plate is to be installed in the manner it is designed to be read! It has to be visible to a following vehicle. All trailers should be registered for the maximum load plus trailer weight (registered weight) this is your maximum legal load the trailer should haul. This amount will be shown on the vin tag and stated as Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
A good guide to proper equipped compliant certified trailers is to look for the NATM seal on the trailer. This is a national watch dog group looking to make the highways safer for all. Also well established and trained dealers can be very helpful. They are supported by the NATDA another watchdog group for dealerships. Compliance never the less is up the individual operating the vehicle on the highway. When crossing state lines it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Our best resource today is the internet, but please use official State and federal sites for accuracy.
The next issue we will move to Med duty and Heavy (TRL) duty trailers and equipment required.
Thanks for reading.