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Trailers can't be wider than 8½ feet

Is there a maximum width allowed for trailers being towed behind pickups and cars? We bicyclists worry that even the most careful driver can forget how much wider their trailer is when passing bicycles.

— Eric, Medford

Indeed there are limits on the width of trailers here in the Beaver State, Eric. There are also limits on their length and height.

Without a special permit, a trailer can be no wider than 8½ feet, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Trailers can be no taller than 14 feet or longer than 40 feet. There's an exception for RVs, which can be 45 feet long, as long as the combination vehicle and RV are no more than 65 feet.

If the trailer is towing a car, ODOT only allows one car on a trailer without a special permit.

Trailer drivers are supposed to keep cyclists in view, Eric. ODOT requires drivers with a trailer to have a clear and unobstructed view for at least 200 feet through the outside rearview mirror. Trailers must be titled with the DMV, and fees are based on the trailer's weight.

Each state has different regulations for trailers. According to AAA, the width requirement in California is the same 8½ feet, but maximum lengths differs depending on the number of axles on the trailers. In Washington, the maximum allowed width is also 8½ feet, and the trailer length can't be longer than 75 feet.

Trailers in all states must follow federal laws requiring two red taillights, two red reflectors, two red brake lights, turn signals and a license plate light.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.