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How to avoid costly citations for trailers

Many South Carolina motorists -- or drivers from out of state passing through -- use a number of different style trailers to tow their belongings. What has become known as utility trailers are trailers that can be towed by private passenger automobiles without acquiring a special license to do so.

While this is a common practice on roadways, South Carolina has specific requirements on how to equip a trailer to ensure it operates safely and can easily be spotted. Failure to follow these relatively detailed requirements could result in a traffic citation with a $237.50 fine attached to it, plus four points on a driver's license.

A trailer can often block a vehicle's rear brake lights. This puts any motorist operating behind a vehicle and trailer in danger. This also puts the driver of the vehicle and trailer in danger of being rear-ended by fellow motorists. If the size of the trailer, or the way that it is loaded, inhibits view of the stoplights, at least one light needs to be installed on the back of the trailer.

To increase visibility, trailers that weigh 3,000 pounds or less require one reflector on both the right and left rear sides of the trailer. Reflecting tape or reflectors should also be installed along the sides of the trailer or wherever the operator deems necessary. Trailers that weigh in at 3,000 pounds or less do not require a stoplight unless they block a vehicle's stoplights.

While stoplights are only required for certain trailers, some law enforcement in South Carolina suggest that all trailers be equipped with them for added safety. Following the guidelines for using a utility trailer will keep South Carolina drivers safer on the roads and free from costly tickets.

Source: SCNow.com, "TRAFFIC ROUNDUP: Brake lights a great idea for utility trailers," Allen Heidler, Feb. 12, 2012

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