Ask an Official: State Patrol discusses proper securement of trailers to vehicles
This week’s featured question was submitted for The Wisconsin State Patrol
The question reads:
“Is it true I could get a ticket for having my trailer chains crossed when I hook up my boat trailer? I usually criss-cross them when hooking up to the ball and hitch, so in case the lock were to come loose the chains would catch the trailer tongue while driving down the road. But I was told if I was stopped for some reason and an officer were to see they were crossed, rather than hooking them up straight, I could get a ticket and fine. I never knew there are even laws about how you hook up trailers! Is there anything else I should know or a place I can find the information? Thank you!”
Answer as given by Wisconsin State Patrol Lieutenant Richard.Reichenberger:
“Statute 347.47(3) defines the requirements of safety equipment when towing:
“(3) In addition to the hitch and coupling specified in sub. (2), every towed vehicle shall be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of safety chains, leveling bars or cables. This requirement does not apply to a semitrailer having a connecting device composed of a 5th wheel and kingpin assembly, nor to a pole or pipe dolly. The safety chains, leveling bars or cables shall have only the necessary slack to permit proper turning and safety chains or cables shall be so connected to the towed and towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the hitch or coupling disengages. Two separate lengths of safety chain, leveling bars or cable shall be required on all trailers and mobile homes; however, the department may authorize use of such other appropriate equipment or methods approved by nationally recognized organizations which recommend safety standards for motor vehicles.
“In some instances the chains may be longer so crossing them may keep them from dragging on the roadway and keep the towed unit, if unhooked, from striking the ground. Chains are a safety precaution and as long as the statutory requirements are met and the chains are of sufficient strength, it is legal to cross them.”
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