Highway Traffic Act for Trailers in Ontarioby Liz MacMillan
The Highway Traffic Act outlines the rules and regulations drivers must follow to use a trailer to transport materials on Ontario roads, from obtaining the proper licenses and vehicle permits to ensuring the trailer is in good working condition and meets the proper safety requirements.
Definition of a Trailer
The Government of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act defines a trailer as a vehicle designed to transport people or property and is drawn (pulled) by another motor vehicle. The trailer is considered a separate vehicle rather than part of the motor vehicle that is pulling it. The vehicle is not considered a trailer if it's a mobile home, motorcycle side car, motor vehicle that's capable of propelling itself or if it's being used to transport animals or crops.
Licenses and Permits
Drivers must have a valid Ontario driver's license (Class G1, G2 or G) to drive a trailer with a gross weight of up to 4,600 kilograms (10,140 lbs.). The Class A license is required to drive larger trailers. Drivers must register the trailer to receive a license plate and vehicle permit. The license plate must be permanently attached to the back of the trailer, and the driver must carry the permit at all times to show to a police officer if asked.
Lights: Standard Trailers
Trailers must have a white lamp to illuminate the number plate on the back, a red tail light and two red reflectors positioned at the same height and as far as apart as possible on the rear of the trailer to reflect the headlights of the drivers behind.
Lights: Wide Load Trailers
If the trailer's width exceeds 2.05 meters (2.2 yards) at any point, in addition to the standard lights the trailer must also have two white or amber clearance lamps on each side of the front and two red clearance lights or reflectors on the rear. Position each pair of lights as far apart as possible to indicate to other drivers how wide the trailer is.
If the trailer's load blocks the driver's view of the road, additional mirrors must be installed to provide clear visibility around the trailer. Trailers must also be equipped with mechanical or electrical signalling devices.
All trailers will gross weight of 1,360 kilograms (3,000 lbs.) or more must have brakes or braking systems to stop and hold the vehicle.
Trailers must be equipped with mudguards or fenders to reduce puddle splash from the road, unless the body of the trailer itself affords adequate protection.
Tires and Wheels
All trailers with a gross weight of 1,820 kilograms (2,385 lbs.) or more must have tires made of rubber or an "equally resilient" material. There must be at least 31.5 millimeters (1.24 inches) of rubber between the wheel rim and the roadway.
Use the correct type of hitch to attach the trailer to your vehicle. There are four classes of hitch, ranging from Class I (up to 1,000 kilograms or 2,000 lbs.) to Class IV (2,270 to 4,500 kilgrams, or 5,000 to 10,000 lbs.). Drivers must also use a secondary means of attaching the vehicle and trailer, such as a safety chain, in case the primary hitch becomes disconnected. Non-commercial vehicles may not tow more than one trailer, and no trailer that's being towed may carry people in it.
- Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images