Q: Is it legal in Washington to tow more than one trailer behind a motor vehicle, like a boat behind a camper trailer? — Martha F., Auburn
A: Once again, we here at Traffic Q&A headquarters find ourselves thrust into the unenviable position of settling a dispute between a husband and wife.
Here’s Martha’s question in its entirety:
“My husband and I are on a road trip to the Midwest. We saw a pickup truck towing a fifth-wheel camper and behind the camper they were towing a trailer with quads and bikes. We have seen other set-ups similar to this, such as a camping trailer being towed by an SUV or pickup with a boat or a trailer with other off-road vehicles being towed behind the camper. Husband thinks this is legal in Washington. I say no as I’d never seen such a rig anywhere in our state. Is it legal?”
Take a bow, Martha. You’re right. Pulling two trailers behind one vehicle, at least as in the examples you cited, is a no-no.
Washington and 20 or so other states don’t allow so-called “triple towing," which is sometimes known as “double towing,” which almost always means pulling more than one trailer behind a single motor vehicle.
This from the synopsis of a bill approved by the Washington Legislature last year that allowed for the addition of cargo extensions on some vehicles:
“It is unlawful to pull more than one trailer at a time behind a motor vehicle, except for a motor carrier that has a combination consisting of a tractor and two trailers in which the combined length does not exceed 61 feet.”
A tractor, in this context, is a semi-truck. We might get smacked around by the editors for trying to slip “semi-truck” into this column, being as how the Associated Press style manual frowns on its usage, but we like to live dangerously.
Anyhow, the idea of allowing Washington drivers to pull more than one trailer has been bandied about before, including in 2011 and 2012 when lawmakers considered allowing folks with a commercial driver’s license to do so. That one didn’t pass.
The topic of double towing is a hot one on online sites for towing aficionados, including pickuptrucks.com, which gave this advice to its readers in 2009:
“If you’re going to double tow across state lines, call or check DMV websites ahead of time so you don’t find yourself paying a ticket and making two trips to get your trailers to their final destination.”