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trailer towing
iStockphoto/Jill Fromer
You should look into several laws and safety precautions before setting out for your vacation with trailer in tow. See more car safety pictures.

If you ever feel the need to escape the stress-filled material world, there's nothing like taking the family on a camping getaway for fresh air, taking a dip in the lake and eating campfire food. You couldn't get farther away from your cubicle office and incompetent boss. It's also a great way to create family memories and bond with kids. One memory you wouldn't want to forge, however, is getting pulled over by authorities throughout the trip for violating trailer towing regulations.

To that end, don't get carried away when it comes to the trailer. Although you may want to get the biggest, baddest camper on the market, trailer towing rules in many states restrict the length, width and even height of trailers. There are also towing regulations regarding weight. Braking is more dangerous when you're towing because of the added weight of a trailer. So, if it weighs too much, you'll need special brakes. Although a police officer might not be likely to pull you over under suspicion of not having proper brakes, you'll be in hot water if it's discovered after you get into an accident.

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Planning your trip will involve more than just remembering the flashlights and hot dogs. To avoid getting tickets, getting sunk with liability costs or even causing an accident in the first place, it's wise to obey trailer towing safety rules. You'll not only have to find out the trailer towing guidelines for your state, but any state you will drive through as well. If it turns out that your trailer exceeds certain legal limits, you may need to get a special license to travel through that state.

After trudging through all these regulations, towing can seem like so much of a pain that it might not feel worth the trouble. But don't be dismayed -- on the next page we'll simplify things for you. We'll go through the basics that all states in the U.S. require and some things that several stricter states require.