Know the rules before towing a recreational trailer

Motorists towing a recreational trailer this summer should be aware of the rules before hitting the road.

  • Jul. 17, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Motorists towing a recreational trailer this summer should be aware of the rules before hitting the road.

The first thing to take note of is the total weight of the trailer and its contents, or the gross vehicle weight (GVW).

The trailer might weigh 4,000 kilograms when empty.

But after food and other items are added, if the GVW is higher than 4,600 kilograms then the driver must obtain a Code 7 house trailer endorsement, according to ICBC regulations.

“The 4,600 kg GVW limit is consistent with the weight limits in other Canadian jurisdictions and was established as a safety threshold between small and large trailers. Towing a larger trailer is more difficult than a smaller trailer because it requires special handling and braking techniques,” said the ICBC factsheet.

The code endorsement allows for towing recreational house trailers of any weight appropriate to the vehicle as long as it and the trailer don’t have air brakes.

If either vehicle has air brakes and weighs over 4,600 kg GVW, motorists must upgrade to a Class 1 driver’s license.

Applying for a house trailer endorsement or Class 1-3 license involves passing a driver’s knowledge test, qualifying to medical standards and passing vehicle pre-trip and road tests in the appropriate vehicle.

Drivers should also bear in mind that certain types of trailers heavier than 4,600 kg GVW, like house/horse trailers, boat trailers or utility trailers require a Code 20 endorsement or a Class 1-3 licence.

It is technically illegal if a driver tows a trailer heavier than 4,600 kg GVW and doesn’t have the right license or endorsement.

In case of a crash, such a driver is violating the terms of the insurance.

For more information, check out ICBC’s information pamphlet Towing a Recreational Trailer at https://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/driving-guides/Pages/Towing-a-Recreational-Trailer.aspx.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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