Canada Brake Laws by ProvinceProvincial Brake Requirements was supplied courtesy of the RV gazette magazine (www.rvgazette.com). The RV gazette is the official magazine of the Explorer RV Club (www.explorer-rvclub.com), Canada's only national RV club.
Listed from the West Coast to the East Coast
British Columbia(Please note: Due to past confusion regarding BC's braking laws, this section includes more details than just the requirements for tow bars/trailer brakes.)
Trailer Brake Requirements
- Gross trailer weight of 1,400 kg (3,080 lbs) or less - Brakes are required if the trailer and its load weigh is more than 50% of the licensed weight of the vehicle towing it.
- Gross trailer weight of 1,401 kg (3,081 lbs) to 2,800 kg (6,160 lbs) - Brakes are required, including a breakaway brake.
- Gross trailer weight of more than 2,800 kg (6,160 lbs) - Brakes are required, and the trailer brakes must be capable of being applied by the driver independently of the towing vehicle's brakes. A surge brake does NOT meet this requirement. A breakaway brake is also required. Brakes are required on all axles. The sole exemption to this rule is for a 3 axle house trailer, in which case brakes are only required on 2 of the 3 axles.
Towing Dolly Brake Requirements
- Gross weight of dolly and motor vehicle carried is 1,400 kg (3,081 lbs) or less.
- Brakes are not required on the dolly if the net weight of the dolly plus (+) the gross weight of motor vehicle carried plus (+) the gross weight of tow vehicle equals (=) less than the gross vehicle weight rating of the towing vehicle.
- Combinations other than the two outlined above require brakes on the towing dolly. Brakes are not required on the motor vehicle being carried by the dolly.
Tow Bar Brake Requirements
- Motorhome and Towed Motor Vehicle - If the towed motor vehicle has a gross vehicle weight of less than 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs) and is less than 40% of the gross vehicle weight rating of the motorhome, brakes and co-ordinated brake control are not required.
- Commercial Vehicle with GVWR over 5,500 kg (12,100 lbs) and Towed Motor Vehicle - If the aggregate weight of the combination does not exceed the GVWR of the commercial vehicle brakes are not required on the motor vehicle being towed.
- Other Combinations - If the combination is not included in the two situations outlined above, brakes are required on all wheels of the motor vehicle being towed in the same manner as trailer brake requirements.General Brake Requirements.
- Brakes with which a trailer is equipped when applied must be adequate to maintain control of the trailer; when applied must not affect the direction of travel of the trailer.
- Breakaway Brake Must automatically apply when the trailer separates from the tow vehicle and when applied must be capable of remaining fully applied for at least 15 minutes.
No person shall park or leave a detached trailer at any place on a highway unless the wheels are locked so that the trailer will remain stationary at that place.
A message from BC regarding Brake Controllers
Never use a brake controller that taps into the hydraulic brake system of a tow vehicle equipped with ABS brakes unless the manufacturer specifically intends the controller for this situation.
If your tow vehicle has ABS brakes, Transport Canada recommends that you use an inertial* brake controller to operate the trailer brakes rather than a controller that operates the trailer brakes when it senses the tow vehicle brake lights turn on. This will prevent possible electronic interference with the ABS controller.
*An inertial controller has a small weight inside that moves in response to the tow vehicle decelerating and sends electrical power to the trailer brakes in proportion to how much the tow vehicle decelerates. An inertial brake controller does NOT tap into the existing hydraulic brake system of the towed vehicle (trailer); hence it does not interfere with the electronic components of the existing ABS brake system of the towed vehicle.
AlbertaTrailer Brake Requirements
If gross laden weight of trailer is 909 kg/2,004 lbs or over, or if gross trailer weight is over half that of the unit, independent braking system is required.
Not required for trailers with a gross laden weight of not more than 910 kg (2006 lbs) or trailers with a gross laden weight of less than half of the weight of the towing unit.Brakeaway brakes are required on trailers over 907 kg (2,000 lbs).
- Any trailer towed behind a motor vehicle with a Gross VehicleWeight Rating (GVWR) of 1,360 kg (2,999 lbs) and greater, requires brakes on all axles with a break-away system that will apply the brakes of the trailer in the event it breaks away from the towed vehicle.
- Currently in Saskatchewan, a motor vehicle that is towed behind another motor vehicle is not required to have operational brakes. However, proposed legislation will require any vehicle that has a GVWR in excess of 2,000 kg (4,409 lbs) or 40% the GVWR of the towing vehicle to be fitted with brakes.
- Current legislation requires that where the combined weight of the towed vehicle and tow dolly exceed 50% of the Gross Vehicle Weight of the towing vehicle, the tow dolly shall have brakes.
- The maximum weight of any motor vehicle towed behind a towing motor vehicle is 2,800 kg (6,173 lbs) or twice the weight of the towing vehicle, which ever is less.
Brakes On Trailers
Every semi-trailer that forms part of, or is attached to, a semi-trailer truck, and every trailer that is attached to a motor vehicle and that has a gross weight in excess of 910 kg (2,006 lbs), when upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate, when operated in combination with the brakes of the motor vehicle or semi-trailer to which it is attached, to stop and hold the semi-trailer truck, or the semi-trailer truck and trailer, or the motor vehicle and trailer, as the case may be, within the distances prescribed by the law (subsection 8).
Breakway brakes are required on trailers 907 kg (2,000 lbs) and over.
OntarioTrailer or semi-trailer - Every trailer or semi-trailer having a gross weight of 1,360 kilograms (3,000 lbs) or more shall be equipped with brakes adequate to stop and to hold the vehicle.
QuebecIndependent braking system is required in each weight bearing wheel where gross weight exceeds 1,300 kg (2,867 lbs). Brakeaway brakes are required on all trailers 1,360 kg (3,000 lbs) and over.
New BrunswickIndependent braking system required where gross weight exceeds 1.5 tons or 1,500 kg (3,308 lbs).
Nova ScotiaIndependent braking system required where gross weight of load and vehicle exceeds 1,800 kg (3,969 lbs). Breakaway brakes are required on all trailers with a registered weight of over 1,350 kg (2,977 lbs).
Prince Edward IslandIndependent braking system where gross vehicle weight exceeds 1,500 kg (3,308 lbs).
Newfoundland/LabradorIndependent braking system needed where gross weight exceeds 4,500 kg (9,923 lbs) or two or more axles are used on the trailer.
Northwest TerritoryRequired if gross laden weight of trailer is 1,360 kg (2,999 lbs) or over, or if gross laden weight of trailer exceeds 50% of gross laden weight of towing vehicle.
NunavutEditor's note: Thorough searching through 146 pages of the territory's Motor Vehicle Act (1999) and amendments failed to uncover any trailer or supplemental braking laws for Nunavut.
YukonIndependent braking system required if gross weight exceeds 910 kg (2,007 lbs) or one-half of the licensed weight of towing vehicle.
The preceding article is a brief look at supplementary brake requirements in Canada. Please note that laws do change. This is a reference guide for information purposes only. Because the majority of brake requirements do not specify tow bars (exceptions are noted), the laws listed pertain to trailer towing. Due to space restrictions, the entire laws are not given; where the section of the law specifically mentions independent braking systems, only that section is printed. This article should only be used as an information piece and not for legal purposes. To obtain more details, it is up to you to check with the governing ministry of the applicable province/territory for changes, complete wording and/or variables of each law.
This article appeared in Volume 8 Issue VIII (June 2003) of the RV gazette (page 36) and is posted on RV Forum courtesy of the RV gazette. This cannot be reprinted or used for Internet posting without express permission for the RV gazette or the Explorer RV Club.
copyright 2003 Explorer RV Club
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