Motorcycle Safety Consultant
Motorcycle Rider Advancement Centre
P.O. Box/Postbus 46298
Republic of South Africa
Dear Mr. du Plooy:
We have received your letter of March 6, 1995, to Joe Pesci of this agency, asking his assistance "in acquiring information about U.S. laws on motorcycle trailers." You understand that "there could be a number of different U.S. states with different laws, but the most generally accepted standard" is what you are seeking in drafting legislation legalizing motorcycle trailers.
Any trailer that is manufactured for sale in, or imported into, the United States must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. These standards are issued by this agency. Several of them apply to trailers. As we have no separate category of "motorcycle trailer", these standards would apply to any trailer manufactured for the purpose of carrying one or more motorcycles.
Here are the requirements that apply to trailers. A trailer with a hydraulic brake system must be equipped with brake hoses, brake hose assemblies, and brake hose end fittings that meet Standard No. 106, and with brake fluid that complies with Standard No. 116. Lighting equipment and reflectors must be installed pursuant to Standard No. 108. Each trailer must have a Vehicle Identification Number attached, in accordance with Standard No. 115 to facilitate any recall campaigns for safety purposes. Standards Nos. 119 and 120 apply to tires and rims used on trailers. Finally, at the end of the manufacturing process, the manufacturer must affix a permanent label which certifies that the trailer complies with the safety standards.
Because these Federal standards apply throughout the United States, I believe that they meet your request for information on "the most generally accepted standard." Under our laws, if any State has its own standard covering any aspect of performance that is covered by one of the Federal standards
listed above, that State standard must be identical to the Federal one. So, to that extent, State regulation of motorcycle trailers should be identical to the Federal requirements.
However, States may impose their own standards in areas that are not covered by the Federal standards. For example, this agency has no requirement covering strength of trailer hitches, or that trailers be equipped with mud flaps. Therefore, a State could adopt standards in these areas. We are not conversant with State laws for motorcycle trailers, and cannot advise you about them. If you wish further information on such laws, we recommend that you write the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, 4600 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. 22203.
I am enclosing for your information a pamphlet on our regulations that we provide to prospective trailer manufacturers. We shall be pleased to answer any further questions you may have. Given the distance between us, you may wish to communicate by FAX. Our number is 202-366-3820.
Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel
Enclosure ref:571 d:4/10/95