How Wide of A Boat Can You Safely Put On A Trailer?

The time for enjoying the water is back, and with it comes considerations for towing your boat. Keep transportation safety in mind with this guide.
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How Wide Of A Boat Can You Safely Put On A Trailer - Moving APT
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Everyone loves the times of the year where they can take their boat out on the open road, heading towards their favorite lake. Anyone who owns a boat can tell you how much fun it is to load it up, weigh it down with some coolers, some snacks, and some drinks for the day, and have a great time out on the water with your friends and family.

But not everyone knows the laws and regulations when it comes to moving their boat around. Did you know there are certain rules you will need to adhere to when moving your boat around? No worries for you, we will cover all of the relevant information for you in this article so that you will be well informed in the future.

If you are looking for someone to help you tow your boat during a big move, you may need to look into some of the best cross country movers in your area to see if they offer services to help you move your things.

What width is allowed when towing a boat?

There are many times when we get really familiar with the laws in the state we live in that we may forget that there are different laws in other states. If you plan on towing your boat across multiple state lines, you might want to plan ahead and know every road you will be traveling so you will be in compliance with the state laws.

When you are towing your boat, the biggest majority of states (47 of them, actually) do not require that you have a wide load permit so long as your boat and trailer widths do not go over eight and a half feet, which is approximately 102 inches.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, with New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii, all of which have an eight-foot limit (approximately 96 inches). North Carolina is the most generous exception, with the state allowing up to 10 feet (or approximately 120 inches) for both boat and trailer.

Here are a couple of handy tips for you when moving your boat between states:

Be familiar with the laws if you are moving to a new state 

If you’re relocating to a new state with your boat and trailer, you may end up needing to buy a new trailer to be in compliance with the laws in your new state. 

Don’t be afraid if you’re just passing through

If you are just visiting or passing right through a state, you won’t have to worry about changing up your trailer configuration to be in compliance.

The best piece of advice is for you to be aware of the states you are traveling through and make sure your boat and trailer are good to go with local laws. You don’t want your grand boat adventures to be soured by a police officer writing you a ticket!

How wide can a boat be on the road?

Most states are pretty uniform in the “eight-foot rule”. With a few exceptions as outlined above. There is sound reasoning for the boat width that has been stipulated, however.

If the boats and trailers started getting much wider than eight feet, the boats would have the possibility of traveling over the double yellow lines on the highway, spelling potential trouble to other motorists on the road.

Can you imagine the havoc that would play out if two quite wide boats were to pass right by each other on a narrow road? The potential wrecks that this could cause is why the biggest majority of states in the United States have capped the legal boat and trailer width at eight feet.

How long can a boat be on the road?

While we’re talking about the laws on the width of boats and trailers, examining the legal lengths of boats and trailers on the road shouldn’t be missed.

When it comes to the maximum boat length for traveling with your vessel, it is about the same ruleset as the width of the boat. Some states don’t specify a specific rule, while others do.

North Carolina appears to be the strictest with this rule, capping boat length at 35 feet (which is approximately 10.7 meters). Most states allow up to 40 feet (approximately 12.2 meters) or more.

Is there a maximum boat height?

As it turns out, they’re sure is a maximum boat height. This is, of course, entirely dependent on which state you live in or are traveling to.

Michigan is one of the strictest on the maximum height of your boat, capping it as low as 12 and a half feet. In most other states, the maximum boat height can be anywhere between 13 to 14 feet tall.

You should also consider the maximum overall length, which is the length of your boat and trailer plus the actual vehicle towing it. This ranges from state to state. For example, Mississippi allows for a 53 feet maximum length, while West Virginia and other states allow for up to 75 feet for the maximum overall length.

Consider your boat hauling speed!

Many states have laws for the maximum towing speed when it comes to hauling boats, trailers, and the like. Anytime you have a wide load, high speeds become a lot more dangerous not only for you but for other drivers on the road as well.

This is a good reason for the legal maximum towing speed to be lower than the posted speed limit of the road. The maximum towing speed can vary wildly by state.

For example, in Alaska, the maximum towing speed is 45 miles per hour. That’s a stark contrast to several other states in the US, such as Idaho, New Mexico, and South Dakota, where the maximum towing speed for each state is 75 miles per hour. Many other states fall somewhere in between these two towing speeds.

It is important to remember that the maximum towing speed for your state usually is only applicable to major highways, freeways, and expressways.

Are there any other legal stipulations for boat hauling?

As it turns out, yes. Hauling boats around can be quite the undertaking, and if done wrong, it can cause a potential hazard to your fellow drivers on the road.

If you are considering moving your boat across town or across state lines, you’re going to want to know about all of the different laws and regulations, not just the width and length of your boat.

Along with making sure your boat is in the legal measurements in your state for its width and length, you’ll want to consider a few other stipulations as well when you are getting ready to haul your boat.

Here are a few things you’ll want to consider for your boat and trailer to be “street legal” when hauling:

Consider your brakes

When it comes to towing, there is nothing more important than safe braking, the ability to slowly come to a stop when needed.

Sudden braking is a whole lot different when you’re towing thousands of pounds of extra stuff behind you, and can cause safety concerns.

Several states require that you use special trailer brakes when hauling something that weighs more than a specific threshold, which is usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 pounds. 

Ensure you have the necessary lights

When towing stuff on a trailer, you have some more lights to consider equipping than just your headlights and taillights. You’ll need a license light to illuminate your trailer’s license plate, you’ll want to ensure the brake lights on the back of your trailer are in working order, and you’ll want to make sure all your turn signals and reflectors are working. 

Don’t forget your breakaway brakes

“Breakaway brakes” come in handy and will protect you if you are in an accident where your hitch mount might come disconnected from your trailer. 

A few extras

Some other things that can’t hurt to have on your travels when towing your boat is a few extras like tie-downs (in case you need to tie something down so it doesn’t go flying away off your trailer) and flares (in case you get in an accident and need to summon help).

What is the average package weight of a boat?

The average boat weight can depend on several different factors, including how big the boat originally is, how much stuff you pile on top of it, whether or not it has gas in the tank, and more.

The average weight of a boat (with a trailer) is approximately 3700 pounds. You should also consider fuel, which can weigh approximately 6.3 pounds per gallon of fuel. You should always factor in the weight of a full tank to the weight of your total setup so you can practice safe towing practices.

After all, if you know how much you are towing, you will be able to adapt accordingly.

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