Towing Skid-Steer Loaders: Are You Legal...and Safe?

September 28, 2010

Bobcat S130Do you need a commercial driver's license (CDL) to transport your skid-steer loader and attachments on a trailer behind a pickup truck?

The basic rule, unless modified by state or local jurisdictions, is that a CDL is required for all trailers with a manufacturer's weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, if the gross weight rating (GWR) of the combined vehicles (trailer and truck) is 26,001 pounds or more.

If, for example, the trailer has a rated capacity of 12,000 pounds and it weighs 4,200 pounds, then it has a GWR of 16,200 pounds. If your ¾-ton pickup has a GWR of 10,500 pounds, then the combination weight is 26,700 pounds, which is 699 pounds above the CDL threshold.

If you're pulling a skid-steer behind a pickup, also consider these safety aspects. Does the truck have enough braking power to handle the load in a competent fashion? Is its towing capacity adequate (as determined from the manufacturer's specifications)? Are you using a hitch properly rated for both towing capacity and for vertical-shear-weight capacity? We're told that 15 to 25 percent of the trailer's loaded weight impinges vertically on the hitch, and that those forces can be multiplied by the dynamics of road travel.