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The legality of triple-trailer trucks in California

If you are someone who has made frequent trips out of the State of California, you may have passed a truck that towed three trailers behind it. While triple trailer trucks may not be common sights on the road, being near one of them for any length of time can be unnerving. If you have not seen them drive within California, that is because they are currently barred by from operating in the Golden State.

According to California's Department of Motor Vehicles, triple trailers are permitted in many states. However, while California does allow for trucks to pull two trailers, the state draws the line at towing three of them. Part of the challenge of driving with multiple trailers is keeping the trailers from rolling over during turns, since a turn that is too quick can cause them to roll over. More triple trailers on the road means more trailers that can be spun over.

There is also the risk of a "crack the whip" effect. A truck that steers too quickly can cause the last trailer in the chain of trailers to turn over. This risk is even more pronounced for triple trailers. As the California DMV explains, the last trailer of a triple tractor can be rolled three and a half times more easily than a five axle single trailer truck. 

Knowing about triple trailers is important because it is possible that the law might change someday and triple trailers could be permitted on California roads. Additionally, if you are involved in an accident with a triple trailer within the boundaries of California, not only would the trucker be liable for damages, but the triple combination of trailers pulled by the truck would be illegal under state law, necessitating further penalties.

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