Thinking Of Getting A Motorcycle Trailer? Make Sure The Trailer Lights Are Legal

If you're looking for a way to transport your motorcycle to your favorite camping spot or even across the country to a new home, specially equipped trailers are a wise option. Finding a rig that will keep your bike upright and secure is important. Making sure your trailer has adequate and legal lighting is equally so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, enforces these requirements, which are valid in both the United States and Canada. Before picking out your new motorcycle trailer, take time to check out the lighting situation.

Basic Open Frame and Enclosed Motorcycle Trailer Lighting Requirements

If you are towing a smaller open frame or enclosed motorcycle trailer sales, you only need to worry about the basic lighting requirements. This is especially important if you are towing a smaller trailer with a larger vehicle. For example, if you are crossing an intersection, an oncoming driver intending on making a left-hand turn may not see your motorcycle trailer until the last minute. Having the required lights and reflective materials gives your trailer more visibility and can possibly help avoid an accident.

Rear Motorcycle Trailer Lighting

  • Motorcycle trailers must have at least two red tail lights that are illuminated at all times, along with two red stop lights that engage when you hit the brake pedal. Some tail light systems incorporate the brake lights and become brighter when you stop. A connection cord plugs your motorcycle trailer's lights into your tow vehicle's electrical system to allow all lights to work in tandem. 
  • At least two rear turn signal lights are required, either red or yellow. These lights flash when you signal a turn from the tow vehicle. 
  • Two red reflectors are needed, placed as far apart as possible on the rear of the trailer. These are not connected to the trailer's light system and only light up when the headlights of other cars bounce off them. 
  • License plates are required to be on the rear of all trailers. License plate lamps are placed above or at the sides of the plates, increasing visibility at night. Only one lamp is required.

Front and Side Motorcycle Trailer Lighting

The rear sides of a motorcycle trailer must have at least two red marker lamps and two red reflectors placed as far back on the trailer as possible. The requirement is the same for the front of the trailer except the lights and reflectors must be yellow. These lights are to help other vehicles see the full length of the motorcycle trailer and determine which direction it is traveling.

Additional Lighting Requirements for Larger Motorcycle Trailers

If you've decided to purchase a larger rig, such as a toy hauler, then you have additional lighting requirements to consider. A toy hauler is an RV trailer with a special enclosed compartment for carrying motorcycles, ATVs and even small cars. They are often used on the racing circuit and by those who like to camp and bring their motorcycles for a bit of off-road fun.

  • A toy hauler trailer that is at least 30 feet long must have additional lighting equipment. Two reflectors and two side marker lamps, yellow in color, must be placed near the center on each side of the trailer. 
  • If your trailer is 80 inches wide or wider, you must have two red reflectors on the top rear corners. Three red rear identification lamps are also required. The three lamps must be placed in a row that is centered on the top rear of your rig. The front of your rig must have two yellow clearance lamps placed as high up and as close to the corners as possible.