Hauling a trailer changes the dynamics of your driving, whether you are trying to reverse or just rolling down the highway. When you are pulling weight behind you, especially heavy weight, every bump, and dip in the road take on a new meaning. With that being said, how fast can you drive with a U-Haul trailer?
Every state has laws on how fast you can go while hauling a trailer. But, according to U-Haul, you should keep your speed at 55 mph maximum while you are traveling with a U-Haul trailer on your hitch. It's not recommended that you exceed 55 mph if you can help it.
As with everything, when it comes to safety, some limitations are probably a little exaggerated. Unfortunately, it only takes one individual doing the wrong thing to mess it up for everyone else. That’s why some of the laws and suggestions are well beyond reasonable.
What do the states have to say about towing a U-Haul trailer?
One of the problems with answering this is the nature of the United States. The federal government does not have absolute control, and the states are left to their own devices when it comes to traffic laws, at least for the most part.
When the question is how fast can you drive with a U-Haul trailer? the answer can’t logically be a blanket one. Fortunately, U-Haul has its own opinion on the matter, and we can use them to provide a blanket response.
In terms of the states, each has its own idea of what the speed limit should be when hauling any trailer, including a U-Haul trailer. Since there are fifty states, it makes for some onerous reading, so we’ll just simplify it so you can skim across and find your state.
- Alabama: 55 mph
- Alaska: 55 mph
- Arizona: 65 mph
- Arkansas: 65 mph
- California: 55 mph
- Colorado: 65 mph
- Connecticut: 55 mph
- Delaware: 55 mph
- Florida: 65 mph
- Georgia: 65 mph
- Hawaii: 55 mph
- Idaho: 65 mph
- Illinois: 55 mph
- Indiana: 65 mph
- Iowa: 65 mph
- Kansas: 65 mph
- Kentucky: 65 mph
- Louisiana: 65 mph
- Maine: 65 mph
- Maryland: 55 mph
- Massachusetts: 55 mph
- Michigan: 65 mph
- Minnesota: 65 mph
- Mississippi: 65 mph
- Missouri: 65 mph
- Montana: 65 mph
- Nebraska: 65 mph
- Nevada: 65 mph
- New Hampshire: 65 mph
- New Jersey: 55 mph
- New Mexico: 65 mph
- New York: 55 mph
- North Carolina: 65 mph
- North Dakota: 65 mph
- Ohio: 65 mph
- Oklahoma: 65 mph
- Oregon: 65 mph
- Pennsylvania: 55 mph
- Rhode Island: 55 mph
- South Carolina: 65 mph
- Tennessee: 65 mph
- Texas: 60 mph during the day and 55 mph at night time
- Utah: 65 mph
- Vermont: 65 mph
- Virginia: 55 mph
- Washington: 60 mph
- West Virginia: 65 mph
- Wisconsin: 65 mph
- Wyoming: 60 mph
For the most part, all of the states stick with either 65 mph or 55 mph when it comes to towing trailers of any kind. The states don’t differentiate between the heaviness of a trailer and the lightness of a trailer. The speed limit applies to either or.
Texas and Wyoming are the lone exceptions. Wyoming sets its speed limit for vehicles traveling with trailers at 60 mph, while Texas has a daytime and nighttime limit. U-Haul essentially picked the lowest mph law in all of the states and went with that number for their own policy.
Of course, if you are hauling a U-Haul through a state which allows you to go 65 mph, you aren’t breaking any laws, even though you are defying U-Haul. However, if you get into an accident, the fact that you were traveling faster than 55 mph will give U-Haul some leeway in charging you for the damages.
Why is towing a U-Haul trailer limited to 55 mph?
U-Haul is just going with the lowest common denominator both for safety purposes and to protect their own investments. You have to bring the trailer back in one piece, after all. At least, U-Haul would prefer that you bring their trailer back in one piece.
The biggest reason that states place a speed limit on vehicles that are towing trailers is that trailer sway or the potential for trailer sway increases as you go faster. Trailer sway can get incredibly dangerous, and it can do so in a hurry.
This is especially true if it is already very windy outside. Keeping your speed limited to a safe and efficient 55 mph reduces the chance of your trailer starting to sway to the point where it causes a major accident.
U-Haul applies the 55 mph speed limit to all of their trailers. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. If you have a very large trailer, U-Haul still maintains that you should only travel at a maximum speed of 55 mph and no faster.
Do you have to tow a U-Haul at 55 mph?
You’re welcome to tow a U-Haul trailer at 30 mph down the highway if you want. You’ll end up making a whole lot of people pretty angry. On the other hand, you can increase your speed up to whatever the state says you can legally do.
If that speed is 65 mph, then it's 65 mph. As we mentioned above, if you get into an accident traveling at a speed of 65 mph, which will be in the police report, by the way, you are giving U-Haul every reason to charge you for the repair costs of whatever damage the trailer incurred.
So, you can travel as fast as you want, but you will have to answer to the local police or a suit from U-Haul.
What might happen if you travel more than 55 mph with a U-Haul trailer?
There are levels of severity in every consequence. One of the least severe consequences is getting pulled over by the police. Every state is a little different, so the ticket that you will get may be more or less depending on where you live.
However, getting pulled over by the cops is a whole lot better than rolling your SUV at 70 mph. The fee is likely to be substantial, as a standard speeding ticket can cost you upwards of $200. The worst part about getting a ticket that requires a court appearance is that you are likely far from home if you are traveling with a U-Haul.
So, you will have to pay the fee and travel to court in the jurisdiction that you were pulled over in if you contest it or can’t pay. The gas cost alone can exceed the cost of the ticket.
A tire blowout
While a tire blowout at 55 mph, while towing a U-Haul trailer, is nothing to laugh off, speeding well above the 55 mph suggested by U-Haul makes it exponentially more difficult to stop without losing control of the vehicle.
Even without an attached trailer, a tire blowout at high speed is difficult to control as you slow down. You could also blow a tire on the U-Haul trailer itself, which is a little easier, but you would have to deal with sudden and severe trailer sway.
Trailer sway is when the U-Haul trailer, or any trailer for that matter, starts swaying back and forth, left and right, while you are moving at speed down the highway. It can be caused by several things, including wind, sudden corrections, tire blowouts, or a failure to properly hitch the U-Haul trailer.
Trailer sway is no joking matter, especially if the U-Haul trailer is very heavy. The sway can get bad enough that it forces your rear tires to slip back and forth as well. It can twist the connection point where the U-Haul is hitched, or completely unmoor it, especially if it was not secured right, to begin with.
Losing the trailer from the hitch while going 65+ mph down the road is a recipe for absolute disaster.
Maximum towing speeds for each state
We already listed the speed limit maximums for each state, however, it's important to know that those are maximum speed limits and are by no means an indicator that you should go that fast.
When you are towing a U-Haul trailer, especially if it's your first time towing any kind of trailer, it will feel weird and a bit different. Your stopping speed is reduced, turns are wider, and you will feel how much power is sapped from the vehicle by pulling the trailer.
It's a good idea to take it slow and ignore the fact that the speed limit is 55, 60, or 65 mph. Just because you are allowed to do something, doesn’t always mean that you must do it.
The recommended speed limit, directly from U-Haul, is 55 mph when hauling a U-Haul trailer behind your vehicle. It's not 55 mph because U-Haul wants you to take forever to reach your destination. It's 55 mph because that is what U-Haul considers to be the safest speed limit while towing their trailer.