Hauling an overhanging cargo poses dangers to your vehicle and other road users. To keep the roads safe for everybody, the DOT and states have rules guiding the transportation of loads that hang out of a truck.
We’ve researched this topic and provide state-by-state rules regarding overhang limits.
Hopefully, this information will keep you and other road users safe and help you avoid traffic fines.
So how far can something hang out of a truck?
It depends on your state of residence. All over the USA, states have various overhang limits and a few of them have no restrictions. The range is from a few feet to 15 feet in Washington.
Here are the numbers per state.
Department of Transportation Regulations on Overhanging Cargo
Under the Federal Size Regulations law, the DOT allows trucks to overhang a cargo by:
- 3 feet in front
- 4 feet in the rear
- 4 inches by the sides
According to the DOT, a truck driver must use proper markings if a cargo overhangs more than the stipulated distance.
And you must use markings that show the maximum width and length of overhand to warn other road users.
However, states have different rules for overhanging cargo. Below, we look at the rules for each state when hauling oversized loads.
In Alabama, loads can overhang by 5 feet from the front and 4 feet off the rear of the truck or any vehicle.
Any load protruding more than the sanctioned limit must carry a visible red flag during the day or a red light during the night.
The state of Alaska allows an overhang of 3 feet in front and 4 feet in the truck’s rear and widths up to 12 feet.
Loads that overhang over 10 feet or 17 feet high must carry an “Oversize Load” sign.
An object can overhang from a truck by 3 feet in the front and 6 feet in the rear in Arizona.
Anything that exceeds this distance violates traffic law even if you used proper markings.
California allows cargo to overhang a vehicle by 4 feet beyond the rear, 3 feet beyond the front and 4 inches beyond the side of the vehicle.
You must use markings if the load extends 1 foot or more to the left or over 4 feet to the rear of any vehicle.
In some cases, California allows overhang up to 10 feet if the vehicle’s overall length does not exceed 75 feet.
In Colorado, an overhang must not extend beyond 4 feet to the extreme front grill of the vehicle and 10 feet beyond the extreme rear of the vehicle.
Any extension beyond the stated limit is a class B traffic offense.
Connecticut allows objects a maximum overhang distance of 3 feet in the front, 4 feet in the rear and 6 inches on both sides.
In some cases, there are no restrictions to the overhang provided you use proper markings.
In Delaware, the DOT allows trucks to carry loads that protrude 3 feet beyond the foremost part of the vehicle and 6 feet beyond the rear.
Cargo which cannot be dismembered to reduce their length can extend 10 feet beyond the rear of the truck.
Florida allows trucks bearing automobiles and boats to overhang their cargo by 9 feet beyond the rear and 3 feet in front of the vehicle.
Trucks laden with trees can overhang 10 feet beyond the rear while it allows other vehicles 4 feet overhand beyond the vehicle’s extreme end.
Hawaii allows the transportation of overhanging loads which does not exceed 4 feet beyond the front and 10 feet in the vehicle’s rear.
However, the rule does not apply if you are hauling objects which cannot be readily dismembered such as poles and pipes. But you must use proper markings at the extreme ends of the load.
The Idaho DOT allows a maximum overhang of 4 feet beyond the front and 10 feet beyond the rear of a vehicle.
Loads can also overhang to a maximum of 6 inches beyond the right and left fender of a vehicle.
In Kansas, it is allowed to overhang a load 3 feet to the front and 4 feet to the rear.
When transporting cargo which cannot be easily dismembered, the state allows more overhang so long as the overall length of the vehicle does not exceed 85 feet.
This state permits an overhang not exceeding 3 feet in front and 5 feet in the rear of a truck.
Louisiana allows an overhang of 4 feet to the front and 8 feet to the rear of a truck.
The Maine DOT allows trucks to carry loads with a front overhang not exceeding 4 feet and rear overhang of 6 feet or less.
The legal overhang limit in Maryland is 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear of the truck.
Legal overhang for trucks in Michigan is unrestricted so long as you stay within the legal length of your vehicle.
But anything that protrudes over 4 feet to the rear must be flagged.
In Minnesota, the legal overhang limit is 3 feet in front, 4 feet beyond the rear of the vehicle and six inches beyond the end of the fenders on the left and right sides of the vehicle.
Mississippi has an overhang limit of 3 feet in the front and 15 feet in the rear of a truck.
Nebraska permits any amount of overhang so long as you don’t exceed the legal length of your truck.
Nevada has an overhang limit of 10 feet to the extreme front and extreme rear of a truck.
In New Mexico, the overhang limit is 3 feet to the front and 7 feet to the rear of the vehicle.
This state has a legal overhang of 10 feet to the front and the rear of the vehicle.
In Oregon, trucks are allowed an overhand not exceeding 4 feet to the front and 5 feet to the rear.
The legal overhang in Pennsylvania is 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear.
Like Penn State, Rhode Island permits an overhang not exceeding 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear of a truck.
The regular overhang in South Carolina is 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear.
However, trailers less than 48 feet are allowed 15 feet overhang to the rear while trailers measuring 53 feet and above can overhang up to 10 feet to their rear.
Vermont allows an overhang of 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear. In some cases, the state does not restrict the amount of overhang at the rear so long as it does not exceed 1/3 of total length.
WA has an overhang limit that must not exceed 3 feet to the front and 15 feet to the rear.
Note that you measure the length of the rear overhang from the center of the last axle.
The legal overhang limit in West Virginia is 3 feet to the front and 6 feet to the rear.
This state allows an overhang of 4 feet to the front and rear of a truck.
The following states follow the federal overhang limit of 3 feet in the front and 4 feet in the rear. They include Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Many of these states make exceptions in specific cases to allow vehicles to overhang their load beyond the legal limit. But you may require special permits, visual signs and sometimes escorts.
States also differ in their measurement of the overhang. Some measure the protrusion from the extreme end of the truck’s bed or bumper. Other states measure from the nearest axle or the last point of support.
What If You Exceed the Overhang Limit?
In most states, you must mark the overextending load with bright signs. The most common signs are a red side marker lamp mounted on the load to show its maximum overhang.
You may need to hang a marker lamp on the sides and the front and rear of the vehicle in locations that are clearly visible to other road users.
The marker lamps must be illuminated at night or whenever the road condition requires the use of headlamps.
Commercial vehicles transporting a load which protrudes beyond the rear by 4 feet or over the sides by over 4 inches must mark the longest extremity of the load with red or orange fluorescent warning flags measuring at least 18 inches square.
You need only one warning flag if the width of the overhanging load does not exceed 2 feet and two flags if it extends beyond that.
While every state of the USA allows trucks to carry overhanging loads, many of them will only permit an extension of 3 feet in front and 4 feet beyond the rear.
However, almost all of them allow you to extend the overhang with permits and a few don’t even have any limit so long as you stay within your truck’s legal length.
Because laws are fluid, check with the DOT of your state before hauling an oversized cargo with your truck. Use relevant warning signs and stay safe on the road!