State-By-State Trailer Length & Trailer Overhang Regulations: A Comprehensive Guide

State-By-State Trailer Length & Trailer Overhang Regulations: A Comprehensive Guide

At Cowtown Express, we specialize in the nuances of oversized freight trucking services. As experienced professionals, we know that navigating the complexities of trailer overhang maximum limits and regulations is crucial to avoid expensive setbacks and legal complications. We've assembled this guide to help you master the essentials and guarantee your upcoming shipment is in full compliance.

Defining Trailer Overhang and Its Implications

Trailer overhang, at its core, represents the portion of a load extending beyond the rear of a vehicle, most notably flatbed trailers. This seemingly straightforward concept carries a significant amount of regulatory weight, governed by a mix of federal and state laws. To navigate these legal dimensions, you'll need an in-depth understanding of terms like the "legal overhang limit," "rear overhang limitation," and "maximum overhang." Each motor vehicle, be it a truck tractor, or other type of vehicle, has an associated legal length beyond which the load should not extend.

The federal overhang limit sets forth a foundational understanding. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a very specific guideline that states the overhang, especially on a flatbed trailer, should be "no less than four feet" from the rear. However, moving from state to state might mean crossing invisible lines where the rear overhang regulations transform. Each state government, while considering federal regulations, is free to define its specific guidelines outlining what it considers a legal flatbed overhang. For instance, South Dakota might have different length limits compared to its neighboring states.

Companies that frequently ship goods using flatbed trailers need to be especially conscious of these laws. If you fail to adhere, it can lead to costly delays, especially if the overhanging loads cross state lines without meeting each state's specific requirements. A company consistently shipping goods without abiding by the legal rear overhang can see costly delays occur frequently.

Every type of load, from end-to-end overhangs to loading multiple pieces on a flatbed trailer, must respect the maximum length regulations. The total length, including the vehicle length and the load length, is crucial. It's not just about meeting the legal length requirements but ensuring the cargo is properly secured. Overhangs that aren't secured properly could potentially damage other vehicles on the roads, so there's very little room for error.

Legal Dimensions and Allowances

Legal Dimensions and Allowances

The regulations surrounding how far something can hang off the back of a truck are clearly outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Even though the federal overhang limit mandates a minimum rear overhang limitation of four feet, individual state norms might vary. Some states stipulate different maximum allowances based on the nature of items being transported. Notably, there are provisions allowing extended lengths for things that are challenging to dismantle or reduce in size. Whether concerning a truck or a flatbed trailer, the rules around legal overhang often come about in several ways:

  • Following DOT Specifications: Many states take the DOT’s minimum of four feet overhang as their maximum permissible limit.
  • Expanding DOT's Provisions: Some states are more lenient and allow goods to extend beyond the federally mandated four feet.
  • Specific Limitations for Distinct Items: Certain states have particular norms for items, such as lengthy metal rods, which can't be easily shortened.
  • Limiting Vehicle Length: Some states focus on the vehicle's overall length, including the overhang, rather than the length of the overhanging items alone.

You'll need to refer to the respective state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the nuances of these rules and to understand specific overhang limits.

Long loads often necessitate distinct markings for safety. While not universally mandated, many states recommend or require red flags to signal extended loads to ensure those approaching from behind are well aware. These flags are subject to their own rules and span aspects like the minimum overhang necessitating a flag, flag dimensions, colors, display methods, visibility distance, and even replacements for nighttime driving, like lamps.

State-By-State Legal Overhang Limit & Trailer Length Limit

Navigating the intricate maze of regulations concerning how much overhang is legally allowed or the total length of a flatbed trailer can change as you cross state lines. It's essential that you understand that every state government crafts its legal dimensions, addressing both the front overhang and the material extending from the rear of the vehicle. Below is a table containing the trailer length and overhang regulations defined by the local laws:

State Length Overhang
ALABAMA 57' trailers (53'6" on roads less than 12' wide, 85' overall) 10' front, 5' rear
ARIZONA 57'6" trailer on Interstate, 65' overall for over 53' semi-trailer 3' front, 6' rear
ARKANSAS 53'6" trailer & load 60' poles, pipes, etc. (special conditions)
CALIFORNIA 75' (65' on non-designated highways) 48' semitrailer 10', as long as length including overhang does not exceed 75' overall
COLORADO 57'4" trailer & load legal on interstate or designated highways 4' front 10' rear
CONNECTICUT 48' trailer Should not exceed 1/3 the length of load
DELAWARE Interstate and Designated Highways - 53' semi-trailers. 70' poles, steel, etc. 6' rear 3' front
FLORIDA 48' trailer (53' trailer specifics given) 75' overall length 3' front or rear
GEORGIA 75' (including overhang) is legal with specifics -
IDAHO 53' trailer on National Network, 48' on non-N.N. 4' front, 10' rear
ILLINOIS 53' semi-trailer* on designated highways 65' overall on non-designated Overhang 3' front, 4' rear
INDIANA 53' trailer and load (including overhang) -
IOWA 53' trailer and load -
KANSAS 59'6" trailer / 85' overall for tractor-trailer combo 59'6" trailer and load (max 85')
KENTUCKY 53' trailer or 65' truck and trailer 5' rear on 48' trailer
LOUISIANA 59'6" trailer or 65' truck and trailer 4' front, 8' rear
MAINE 53' trailer / 74' overall length 74' overall
MARYLAND 53' trailer Interstate / 48' other roads 3' front, 6' rear
MASSACHUSETTS 53' trailer on Interstate and designated highways -
MICHIGAN 53' trailer on Interstate and designated highways 50' max on non-designated -
MINNESOTA 75' overall 53' trailer 43' kingpin setting -
MISSISSIPPI 53'0 trailer 99' overall length With up to 53' trailer 3' front 14'11" rear
MISSOURI 53' trailer and load on Interstate and designated highways -
MONTANA 53' trailer 75' max length if trailer exceeds 53' or any rear overhang Overall length including overhang up to 75'
NEBRASKA 53' trailer and load 65' combination trailers and load -
NEVADA 53' trailer 75' max length including rear overhang 10', if total length including overhang <= 75'
NEW HAMPSHIRE 53' trailer on Interstate and designated highways, 48' on all other roads -
NEW JERSEY 53' trailer on Interstate and designated highways, 48' on all other roads -
NEW MEXICO 57'6" trailer on designated highways, 65' overall length on all other roads 7' rear
NEW YORK 53' trailer on Designate Highway system and NY Access Highways -
NORTH CAROLINA 53' trailer* on designated highways, 48' trailer on all other roads Front - 5', Rear - 5'
NORTH DAKOTA 53' trailer and load, 75' overall including load and rear overhang -
OHIO 53' trailer and load -
OKLAHOMA 59'6" on "U.S. Defense Highway System", 53' on other routes -
OREGON 53' semitrailer 5'
PENNSYLVANIA 53' semitrailer Up to 6' rear overhang on a divisible load
RHODE ISLAND Interstate: 53' semitrailer 3' front, 6' rear
SOUTH CAROLINA 53'0 semitrailer and load 5' rear on 48' semitrailer, None on 53'
SOUTH DAKOTA 53' semi-trailer, Overall length not limited 3' front, 4' rear or 53' trailer and load
TENNESSEE Not to exceed 50' from kingpin to end of trailer or load See Length
TEXAS 59' semi-trailer 2' front, 4' rear
UTAH 53' trailer on designated highways 3' front, 6' rear
VERMONT Interstate: 53' trailer , Non-designated: 75' overall, 48' trailer -
VIRGINIA Designated: 48'/53' trailer, Non-designated: 65' 3' front, 4' rear
WASHINGTON 53' semi-trailer, Legal loads: 56' trailer and load permit available 3' front, 15' rear from center last axle
WEST VIRGINIA Interstate: 53' trailer or load, Non-designated: 48' trailer, 60' overall 3' front, 6' rear
WISCONSIN Designated: 53' trailer, Other roads: 48' semi-trailer, 75' overall -
WYOMING 110' -

Essential Tips for Safe Overhang

Essential Tips for Safe Overhang

Securing and managing overhangs, especially on flatbed trailers and larger vehicles, requires diligent attention to safety. To ensure road safety and smooth transport, keep the following in mind:

  • Awareness: Familiarize yourself with both federal and state regulations concerning overhangs.
  • Visible Indicators: Use red flags or other markers to clearly indicate extended loads. This is especially crucial for loads extending more than four feet from the rear.
  • Secure Your Load: Ensure that all loads, regardless of size, are safely and securely fastened to prevent unexpected shifts during transport.
  • Nighttime Precautions: If you're driving at night, replace rear flags with appropriate lights or lamps to make the overhang clearly visible.
  • Regular Check-ups: Periodically stop to check the stability and security of your load, especially when transporting over long distances.

Conclusion and Importance of Compliance

Ensuring compliance with overhang regulations is more than just abiding by the law; it's about safeguarding every journey. But you don't have to go through this process alone. As your dedicated partner in oversized freight shipping, Cowtown Express specializes in managing flatbed and oversized loads. Our expertise ensures compliance and optimal safety. Choose Cowtown Express for your flatbed loads & overhang freight needs and experience seamless, safe, and efficient transport solutions. Contact us today for a free quote!

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