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Towing an EMPTY tow dolly behind a Fifth Wheel east coast.

mobilevagrant
Explorer
Explorer
I have tried to "google" this and can't find any real info.

I will be pulling a 5th wheel from Florida up the east coast soon but I would like to be able to pull my tow dolly behind the 5th wheel. I realize that most east coast states don't allow double/triple towing(however you label it) but a car dolly is usually considered part of a towed vehicle and not separate.

However I can not find out any real information on how a car dolly is defined when it is by itself with no vehicle on it.

I did see a situation near jacksonville fl where someone was towing 2 dolly(s) linked front to back with no vehicles and was curious as to the legality of this.

Anyway, the 5th wheel is only 21' and total length would be between 55-60 feet, and most states seem to have a limit of 65 feet.

Since I probably couldn't see the dolly behind the camper I would probably put a camera on the back of the trailer.

Does anyone here have any idea if this is allowed or not, or where I can check?(other than each state DMV which would be my next step - but probably won't get a good answer there either. Maybe state police?)
55 REPLIES 55

mkirsch
Nomad II
Nomad II
Cummins12V98 wrote:
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!


Why? You're an RVer. You know the First Law of RVing: "NO COMPROMISES!" That guy is not going to compromise on which toy to bring along when camping. He wants them ALL. He's going to have them ALL.

Remember the Second Law of RVing: "It's not stupid/illegal if it works!"

Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

Bionic_Man
Explorer
Explorer
Not mine. I do tow double but with a boat.
2012 RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn DRW CC 4x4 Max Tow, Cummins HO, 60 gallon RDS aux fuel tank, Reese 18k Elite hitch
2003 Dodge Ram 3500 QC SB 4x4 Cummins HO NV5600 with Smarty JR, Jacobs EB (sold)
2002 Gulf Stream Sea Hawk 29FRB with Honda EV6010

MFL
Nomad II
Nomad II
Bionic Man wrote:
Cummins12V98 wrote:
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!


I've spoken with plenty of people that feel the same way about towing two trailers.


Hey Bionic, not sure if that triple tow rig is yours? While I could see towing that setup, shorter distances, at lower speeds, I would consider it unsafe for towing at speed, especially in traffic. It seems the hitch wt on FW rear would be excessive too, since mine/most factory FW receivers say 300 lbs max weight.

I've towed doubles since 95, and never felt unsafe. My second trailer, carrying 2-3 motorcycles, was never more than 1,800 lbs, and tracked very nicely behind several FWs.

Jerry

Cummins12V98
Explorer III
Explorer III
Bionic Man wrote:
Cummins12V98 wrote:
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!


I've spoken with plenty of people that feel the same way about towing two trailers.


Drive I-5 thru Oregon and you will see UPS "Snakes" all over the road.
2015 RAM LongHorn 3500 Dually CrewCab 4X4 CUMMINS/AISIN RearAir 385HP/865TQ 4:10's
37,800# GCVWR "Towing Beast"

"HeavyWeight" B&W RVK3600

2016 MobileSuites 39TKSB3 highly "Elited" In the stable

2007.5 Mobile Suites 36 SB3 29,000# Combined SOLD

JRscooby
Explorer II
Explorer II
Bionic Man wrote:
Cummins12V98 wrote:
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!


I've spoken with plenty of people that feel the same way about towing two trailers.


And in camp grounds, I watched many that don't have skill level to tow 1.

Bionic_Man
Explorer
Explorer
Cummins12V98 wrote:
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!


I've spoken with plenty of people that feel the same way about towing two trailers.
2012 RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn DRW CC 4x4 Max Tow, Cummins HO, 60 gallon RDS aux fuel tank, Reese 18k Elite hitch
2003 Dodge Ram 3500 QC SB 4x4 Cummins HO NV5600 with Smarty JR, Jacobs EB (sold)
2002 Gulf Stream Sea Hawk 29FRB with Honda EV6010

Cummins12V98
Explorer III
Explorer III
IMHO the pictured "TRAIN" is just plain STUPID!!!
2015 RAM LongHorn 3500 Dually CrewCab 4X4 CUMMINS/AISIN RearAir 385HP/865TQ 4:10's
37,800# GCVWR "Towing Beast"

"HeavyWeight" B&W RVK3600

2016 MobileSuites 39TKSB3 highly "Elited" In the stable

2007.5 Mobile Suites 36 SB3 29,000# Combined SOLD

Wadcutter
Nomad
Nomad
mkirsch wrote:

Oh, and local law enforcement knew EXACTLY what I was talking about when I asked about "triple towing." "Oh you mean a truck and two trailers? Not legal here in NY."

I know the LE knows the correct terminology. Many LEOs are trained extensively in the FMCSA. When we complete an inspection report a copy goes to the feds. Every state has to use the same terminology so that when all those inspection reports are collected by the feds they all are the same meaning. On that inspection form is a description of the unit being inspected.
While the RVer isn't subject to FMCSA the terms from the FMCSA are what carries over into other statutes. The reason is simple. So everyone is talking on the same page.
I have no doubt those LEOs you called also know when they get a question from the public they know the person doesn't know what they're talking about. Calling 2 trailers a triple tow explains that quite well. That comes from years of answering questions from the unknowning public.
Camped in every state

mkirsch
Nomad II
Nomad II
Thanks, but I don't need it explained. I get it. It makes me cringe because everyone should have learned to count to TWO when they were <5 years old. This only proves that our educational system has been failing us for at least three-quarters of a century.

Irks me to no end that when you ask someone what "double towing" is and they say "A truck and two trailers." Why? "Trailer 1 and trailer 2." Then ask them what "triple towing" is and they say "A truck and two trailers." Why? "Because there's three, truck, trailer 1 and trailer 2."

Oh, and local law enforcement knew EXACTLY what I was talking about when I asked about "triple towing." "Oh you mean a truck and two trailers? Not legal here in NY."

Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

Wadcutter
Nomad
Nomad
mkirsch wrote:
It's probably too late to change the vernacular. Literally every article on this subject calls it "triple towing."

The vernacular was changed by those who didn't know what they were talking about.
The legal definition, as used by the feds and states, of triple towing is as in the picture posted by Bionic Man.
It's really not that difficult to understand if one would just think about what they're saying. Look at the phrase "triple towing". Now think about it. "towing". It doesn't say "number of vehicles in combination. It's "towing".
Now what is "triple"? 3. Put those 2 words together. What's it say. Towing 3. Not "how many in combination". Towing 3.
Now why does it matter? You say you can't find the law. That does not mean it's not in the laws. It just means you don't know where to find it. So if you call your state LE and ask "Can I tow triple?" they're going to assume, erroneously, that you know what you're talking about and you are describing "towing 3" as in the picture posted by Bionic Man. And they're going to give you the law for the combination in the picture. Is that the answer you're looking for?
That's about as simple explanation as I can give for those who don't understand definitions and the law.
If you want to know what's legal then you need to learn the proper terminology. Do not rely on some internet search written by those who also do not understand defniitions and the law.
Camped in every state

mkirsch
Nomad II
Nomad II
It's probably too late to change the vernacular. Literally every article on this subject calls it "triple towing."

I'm not going through all the state laws looking for it to actually say "triple." It's always been a waste of time trying to look up the actual legal document where it says that such-and-such is illegal. For example, I can't find ANYTHING on the books in NY that says towing multiple trailers is illegal, yet it reportedly is. It's supposedly illegal to leave your ball hitch in the receiver too, but I can't find the actual law that says so. I can't find the law that says it's illegal to drive over the speed limit. I can't find the law that says it's illegal to drive drunk. I can't find the law that says you need a CDL to tow a trailer over 10,000lbs GVWR.

I do know when you google "is it legal to triple tow in XXX" it sends you to that state's laws on towing.

Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

Bionic_Man
Explorer
Explorer
For those that are confused by words, here is a photo to illustrate triple towing.

2012 RAM 3500 Laramie Longhorn DRW CC 4x4 Max Tow, Cummins HO, 60 gallon RDS aux fuel tank, Reese 18k Elite hitch
2003 Dodge Ram 3500 QC SB 4x4 Cummins HO NV5600 with Smarty JR, Jacobs EB (sold)
2002 Gulf Stream Sea Hawk 29FRB with Honda EV6010

Cummins12V98
Explorer III
Explorer III
mkirsch wrote:
Do you call it soda or do you call it pop?

Same deal with the "double" vs "triple/tripple" towing. It's a regional thing based on how the politicians put it in the books.

In RV parlance they mean the SAME THING, even though some of us can't help but rage about the idiocy of calling it "triple/tripple TOWING" when you are only towing TWO trailers. Yes there are three "things" but only two of them are being towed.

Nobody ever said politicians were smart.

What's the deal with the extra p anyway? Maybe it's actually "tipple" towing?


Never claimed to being a English Major!!! It's kinda like "AMZ/OIL"
2015 RAM LongHorn 3500 Dually CrewCab 4X4 CUMMINS/AISIN RearAir 385HP/865TQ 4:10's
37,800# GCVWR "Towing Beast"

"HeavyWeight" B&W RVK3600

2016 MobileSuites 39TKSB3 highly "Elited" In the stable

2007.5 Mobile Suites 36 SB3 29,000# Combined SOLD

Wadcutter
Nomad
Nomad
mkirsch wrote:

Same deal with the "double" vs "triple/tripple" towing. It's a regional thing based on how the politicians put it in the books.


Actually no. Unless you can actually back up that statement by providing the statute.
The FMCSA defines double towing as pulling 2, triple as pulling 3. The power unit is not a towed unit. They even have pictures for those who lack reading comprehension skills.

mkirsch wrote:

What's the deal with the extra p anyway? Maybe it's actually "tipple" towing?

Here's why it's important to call towing by the proper terminology. If you call a LE agency, DOT, or other enforcement office and ask if it's OK to triple tow they're going to go by the proper definition. Triple tow is 3 units being pulled by a power unit. And if you ask about triple towing who ever you call will assume you know what you're talking about, altho a silly assumption on their part, and will give you the appropriate legal information for towing 3 units with a power unit.
But if you ask about triple towing but you don't know what you're talking about (obviously) and you only mean 2 towed units and 1 power unit then you won't get the correct information and you'll continue to be uniformed.
BTW, I taught FMCSA for a lot of years, enforced FMSCA and 2nd division laws, and commanded those units. I didn't get my information from some internet page written by someone who didn't have a clue what they were talking about.
Camped in every state