Auto, Boat, & Camper Transporters Exemptions

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NOTE: This exemption is for commercial haulers. If you are towing an oversize boat for personal use, you will need to obtain an oversize permit from the Caltrans Transportation Permits Office.


OVERALL LENGTH

Per California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 35401.3, transporters of motor vehicles, boats, and camper units have length exemptions. Following are selective paraphrases of the CVC, and text copied from the Federal Code of Regulations. It is not guaranteed and may be subject to change.

35401.3. (a) A combination of vehicles designed and used to transport motor vehicles, camper units, or boats, which consists of a motortruck and stinger-steered semitrailer, shall be allowed a length of up to:

(a) 70 feet if the kingpin is at least 3 feet behind the rear drive axle of the motortruck.

(b) 75 feet if all of the following conditions are maintained:

 

(1) The distance from the steering axle to the rear drive axle of the motortruck does not exceed 24 feet.
(2) The kingpin is at least 5 feet behind the rear drive axle of the motortruck.
(3) The distance from the kingpin to the rear axle of the semitrailer does not exceed:
      34 feet, or 36 feet if on a triple axle semitrailer.

OVERHANG

35401.3. (a) and (b) These combinations shall not be subject to subdivision (a) of Section 35411 (which requires that the vehicle plus load cannot exceed 75 feet), but the load upon the rear vehicle of either of these combinations shall not extend more than 6 feet 6 inches beyond the allowable length of the vehicle.

LOAD-CARRYING EXTENSIONS

35402. (b) Extensions up to 18 inches in length on each end of a vehicle or combination of vehicles used exclusively to transport vehicles shall not be included in measuring the length of a vehicle or combination of vehicles when the vehicles are loaded. (This exemption not allowed on STAA vehicles per CVC Section 35401.5(b) -- see discussion below.)

SLIDING FIFTH WHEEL UP TO 2'6" AT 35 MPH OFF FREEWAYS

35402. (e) A truck semitrailer combination may use a sliding fifth wheel to extend the length of the combination by not more than 2 feet 6 inches while traveling 35 miles per hour or less on any highway, except a freeway. The sliding fifth wheel when extended shall not be included in measuring the overall length of the combination of vehicles if:

  • the pivot point of the semitrailer connection is more than two feet to the rear of the center of the rearmost axle of the motortruck, or
  • if the distance from the pivot point to the center of the rearmost axle of the semitrailer does not exceed 34 feet.

(This exemption not allowed on STAA vehicles per CVC Section 35401.5(b) -- see discussion below.)


AUTO, BOAT, & CAMPER TRANSPORTERS
ON THE STAA NETWORK

STAA VEHICLES

Per CVC 35401.5.(a), a truck tractor and semitrailer may have unlimited length on the STAA Network (which includes the National Network and Terminal Access routes) if the length of the semitrailer either (1) does not exceed 48 feet, or (2) does not exceed 53 feet and has a KPRA* of 38 feet maximum on a single-axle semitrailer or 40 feet maximum on a two-or-more-axle semitrailer.

*KPRA = kingpin-to-rear-axle distance

AUTO, CAMPER, & BOAT TRANSPORTERS CAN BE STAA VEHICLES

Per CVC 35401.5.(a), for the purposes of this section, a motortruck used in combination with a semitrailer, when that combination of vehicles is engaged solely in the transportation of motor vehicles, camper units, or boats, is considered to be a truck tractor.

AUTO, CAMPER, & BOAT TRANSPORTERS LOSE TWO EXEMPTIONS AS STAA VEHICLES

CVC 35401.5(b) disallows the exemptions of Section 35402 (b) and (e) (see those sections above -- "Load-Carrying Extensions" and "Sliding Fifth Wheel...") on combinations of vehicles operated subject to the exemptions provided by this section (STAA).


FEDERAL DEFINITIONS

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 - Highways Sec. 658.5 Definitions

Automobile transporters. Any vehicle combination designed and used specifically for the transport of assembled highway vehicles, including truck camper units.

Boat transporters. Any vehicle combination designed and used specifically to transport assembled boats and boat hulls. Boats may be partially disassembled to facilitate transporting.

Stinger-steered combination. A truck tractor semitrailer wherein the fifth wheel is located on a drop frame located behind and below the rear-most axle of the power unit.

FEDERAL LENGTH REQUIREMENTS

Fast Act Truck Size and Weight Provisions Section 5520 Automobile/Boat Transporter

Section 5520 Automobile Transporter – The FAST Act amends 49 U.S.C. 31111(a) by striking the word "specifically" from the definition of "automobile transporter." The FAST Act further provides that an automobile transporter shall not be prohibited from the transport of cargo or general freight on a backhaul, so long as it complies with weight limitations for a truck tractor and semitrailer combination. "Backhaul" means the return trip of a vehicle transporting cargo or general freight, especially when carrying goods back over all or part of the same route. Section 5520 also mandates that a State may not prescribe or enforce a regulation of commerce that imposes a vehicle length limitation of less than 80 feet on a stinger-steered automobile transporter with a front overhang of less than 4 feet and a rear overhang of less than 6 feet. The previous limitations were 75 feet for the overall length, and 3-foot front and 4-foot rear overhangs.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 - Highways Sec. 658.13 Length

(e) Specialized equipment--

(1) Automobile transporters. (i) Automobile transporters are considered to be specialized equipment. As provided in Sec. 658.5, automobile transporters may carry vehicles on the power unit behind the cab and on an over-cab rack. No State shall impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional automobile transporters (5th wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s)), including "low boys,'' or .....

(2) Boat transporters. (i) Boat transporters are considered to be specialized equipment. As provided for automobile transporters in Sec. 658.5, boat transporters may carry boats on the power unit so long as the length and width restrictions of the vehicles and load are not exceeded. No State shall impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional boat transporters (fifth wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s), including "low boys," or .....


CONTACTS: FOR PERMIT LOADS, OVERSIZE OR OVERWEIGHT PERMITS, CONTACT THE PERMITS STAFF.

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