Ask a Trooper: When are brakes required on trailers?

Question: I am making a hunting blind out of an old boat trailer, do I need brakes on it?

Answer: Brakes are required on all trailers with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or more. Trailers manufactured after June 30, 1988, with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or more require brakes installed on all wheels.

Every trailer with a gross weight of more than 3,000 pounds shall also be equipped with a breakaway brake device which will automatically apply and hold the brakes should the trailer accidentally become detached from the towing unit.

Trailers manufactured prior to July 1, 1988 that are equipped with three or more axles are not required to have brakes on the front axle, provided the brakes on all other wheels meet the performance standards prescribed by law. 

The manufacturers of many new vehicles equipped with anti-lock brake systems require any towed unit be equipped with electric brakes and the towing vehicle be equipped with an electronic brake controller. 

It’s also important to check the brakes on your personal vehicle every three months. Too often, vehicle owners put off simple maintenance until it’s too late. Deteriorating brakes can create longer stopping distances, ultimately leading to a crash. Do your part to maintain your vehicle to avoid a crash.

SGT. NEIL DICKENSON is Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer for the state’s northeast region. Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues to neil.dickenson@state.mn or by mail to Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth MN 55811. Follow Dickenson on Twitter at @MSPPIO_NE . 

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