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Triple Towing: What Is It & Where Is It Legal?

Triple Towing: What Is It & Where Is It Legal?

We’ve discussed towing now and again on this blog, from a few different perspectives. We’ve published a post about towing a car behind an RV, we’ve talked about the best tow bar for flat towing, and we recently addressed methods for trailer sway control in detail. But today we’re looking at triple towing, which is a whole different can of worms.

Let’s get right to it!

What Is Triple Towing?

Triple towing refers to towing two vehicles behind the vehicle you’re driving.

So, for example, you might be driving a truck and towing your 5th wheel behind it while also towing your boat behind the 5th wheel!

Another example would be a motorhome towing a car (or “toad”), with the car hauling a trailer containing a four-wheeler, jet skis, mopeds, or other recreational “toys”.

Is Triple Towing Legal?

It’s legal in SOME states but not everywhere, and it’s very important to understand where it’s legal and where it’s not before you decide to tow in this manner.

Prior to setting yourself up to tow, you’ll need to determine whether the states through which you want to travel allow triple towing, AND what their specific regulations are. You can visit each state’s Department of Transportation website for this information.

In What States is it Legal to Triple Tow?

At the time of the publishing of this post, (January 2022), the following states allow triple towing – but again, each state has specific regulations that include legal length, width, height, and weight, as well as possible non-commercial license endorsements:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.

Be aware that you really need to do your research before triple towing. Not only do the laws vary from state to state, but they can even vary within a state. For example, while it’s legal in the state of Illinois, the maximum allowable RV width on some roads in the state is 102 inches, while the maximum allowable RV width on other roads in the state is only 96 inches.

In Nebraska, whether you’re hauling one or two vehicles behind your rig, the maximum combined length allowed is 65 feet. In Illinois, however, the maximum combined length allowed is only 60 feet, and if you’re triple towing, one vehicle must be a 5th wheel trailer.

So, you can see how important it is to have your ducks in a row prior to making a plan to tow more than one trailer across state lines.

And while you might think a law enforcement officer wouldn’t stop to measure the difference between 60 or 65 feet, if you were to be involved in an accident (your fault or not), and you were violating the triple towing regulations of that state when the accident occurred, you could have a serious problem on your hands, including the possibility of an insurance company refusing to cover damages.

States where triple towing is legal.

These are the states where triple towing is permitted, however, each state has its own specific regulations related to triple towing (also referred to as “towing doubles”, “pulling doubles”, “double towing”).

What Is the Difference Between Double Towing and Triple Towing?

Double towing (or “hauling doubles”) is a term used by commercial truck drivers, but it actually has the same meaning as triple towing.

When commercial drivers tow two trailers behind their rig, they call it double towing or hauling doubles.

However, a very significant difference between commercial “double towing” and non-commercial “triple towing” is education. Commercial drivers hauling two or more trailers have training specific to the practice of “hauling doubles”. In fact, most states require a special license endorsement for commercial drivers, though there is no such requirement for non-commercial drivers in most states. (Some states do require a license endorsement for non-commercial drivers, though, so be sure to keep that in mind!)

How Long Can Your Triple Tow Be?

Again, this varies from state to state, so checking the laws in the state or states in which you plan to tow is imperative. With that said, most laws cap the maximum length of a triple tow setup at 60’ or 65’.

Can You Tow a Camper and a Boat at the Same Time?

You can tow a camper (including a 5th wheel) and a boat at the same time, provided you are within the height, weight, width, and length limits, and you have a safe setup for doing so.

You’ll need to be sure that the combined weight and towing capacity of your towing setup (tow vehicle, hitch(es), hitch receiver(s), brakes, etc) fall within safe limits… and that your RV or truck and the trailers you’re towing are all in excellent condition and brakes, brake lights, tires, etc. are optimally maintained.

Tom Morton with his triple tow setup.

Our friends Tom and Caitlin Morton triple tow when they use their truck to pull both their 5th wheel and their boat. Tom had to get a special endorsement on his license in the State of Michigan (pursuant to an exam) allowing him to triple tow recreationally. Image credit: Tom and Caitlin Morton, Mortons on the Move

Is Triple Towing Safe?

As noted above, there are a number of safety factors to consider when triple towing. While it can be done safely, it can also be a very unsafe practice unless all vehicles involved are optimally maintained, weight and towing capacities are strictly followed with safety in mind, and the driver has the experience to safely triple tow in all traffic situations.

If you aren’t sure what you’d do in the event of a tire blowout while hauling two trailers, for example, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. But if you’re well prepared and are capable of triple towing in traffic, around corners, up and down hills, along rough roads, in the rain, etc., and if the rig or truck you’re driving and the trailers you’re towing are in optimal condition (tires included), then triple towing can be done safely.

In States Where Legal, Are There Additional Safety Regulations For Triple Towing?

Yes, there are additional safety regulations that vary from state to state. Some states, as we mentioned previously, require that a driver has a special license endorsement permitting triple towing (or “double towing”).

Our friend Tom Morton (Mortons on the Move) has triple towed/double towed, so we’ll let him explain how he does it along with some of the particulars you need to know if you’re considering triple towing (also called double towing as you’ll hear Tom refer to it here).

Our Suggestions For Anyone Considering Trying To Triple Tow:

  • The combined weight and towing capacity must be within safe limits.
  • You should already have considerable RV driving and towing experience.
  • Check with your insurance company to make sure you’re covered in the event of an accident while triple towing.
  • Brakes and tires (including pressures) should be checked and reported to be in optimal condition prior to triple towing.
  • Remember that your risk (and the risk to those around you) increases with every additional item you’re towing – think about turning, merging lanes, stopping, and starting with the additional weight and length.
  • Increase stopping distances.
  • Consider weather conditions.

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Chris

Thursday 17th of February 2022

I believe you missed WI as a state triple towing is allowed

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 17th of February 2022

Thanks Chris! It was complicated gathering all this, and we appreciate the input.

Cary Dean Singleton

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

If towing 2 items is triple towing, what is towing 1 item? Thx. Cary

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

Great question, Cary! Towing 1 vehicle is called "towing!" It's one of those weird things that as soon as you make a line of three attached vehicles, it's so long that maximizing it to the total number of vehicles seems natural. Although it is also sometimes called "double towing" too. We don't make the rules, we just report on 'em! LOL

Frank

Saturday 1st of January 2022

Nevada permits double but is not on the list?

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 1st of January 2022

Thanks for catching that, Frank. An editing oversight that we just corrected in the text, and will update the graphic shortly.

Gay Camping Enthusiast

Saturday 1st of January 2022

That's crazy! Triple towing?! Who in their right mind would do that?! Unless they're licensed to do such a thing, like say you're a long-haul trucker and you're towing two, maybe three trailers as part of your work. I'd have trouble with one trailer, never mind two trailers.

Mark

Saturday 1st of January 2022

I hate Towing to start with let alone towing Doubles, I have a 40' Gooseneck Toy Hauler that is more than enough for me to tow down the highway.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 1st of January 2022

We hear you Mark! A toy hauler is sure a great way to keep the fun gear self-contained, rather than inside an extra vehicle!

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