With summer in full swing Nevada’s roads are full of vehicles towing trailers. Drivers who tow trailers behind their vehicles need to be mindful of state laws governing safety and installation requirements. Failure to comply with the law can create a dangerous situation that leads to property damage, personal injuries, and expensive litigation.
Nevada’s minimum requirements for trailers
Nevada law has a number of rules that drivers must follow when towing trailers on roads in the state.
- Reflectors and lighting. All trailers in the state must have two red tail lamps on the back. The lamps must be bright enough to be visible for at least 500 feet to the rear. Trailers also must have stop lamps that are activated when brakes are applied. Stop lamps need to be bright enough when activated to be visible during the day. Most trailers built in the last 50 years are required to have turn signal lights. Rear red reflectors are also required, either separately or as part of the rear lights. NRS 484.551, NRS 484.555, NRS 484.557, NRS 474.553.
- Trailers that weigh 1,500 pounds or more and were built after July 1, 1975, are required to be equipped with service brakes on all wheels. The brakes must be able to stop the trailer for at least 15 minutes should the trailer be disconnected from the vehicle. NRS 484.593.
- Wide loads. Trailers over 80 inches wide must comply with additional lighting and reflector requirements. NRS 484.561.
- Safety chains. Trailers must be installed with safety chains connected to their towing vehicles to prevent runaways.
- In Nevada trailers are separately titled and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Managing risks involving a trailer
The state does not impose special insurance requirements for trailers. However, it’s a good idea to check with your liability carrier to confirm that your policy covers damage caused by a trailer. Drivers can get into trouble towing trailers in a number of ways:
- Jackknifing, fishtailing, and other loss of control. Driver error can lead to a trailer going out of control. Understanding how to respond to these situations is essential to being a responsible trailer owner. Know the maximum safe speed at which your vehicle to can safely tow your trailer, taking into account how its behavior can change depending on its load and road conditions. Proper maintenance, including keeping tires adequately inflated, is also an important part of maintaining control.
- A properly installed trailer shouldn’t break away from the towing vehicle, but mistakes happen. A breakaway at slow speeds may be a manageable problem, but at highway speeds or on steep grades it can create a serious hazard. This is especially true of old trailers that don’t have braking systems that are required in new equipment. Safety chains hopefully prevent the worst-case scenarios, but the best solution is to avoid breakaways by double checking all connections before getting underway. Failing to do so could be a form of negligence that creates serious legal liability.
- Drivers who lack experience working with trailers often have a hard time controlling them, especially when backing up. Drivers who will operate trailers regularly can benefit from specialized training courses. If a driver who lacks experience will operate the towing vehicle, take care to keep speeds under control and avoid complex situations as much as possible.
GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury and accident law firm. If you have questions about an accident involving a trailer, call us today for a free attorney consultation. Reach us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.