EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.

How far can a load extend from the front or rear of the vehicle?

This question was asked because we observe so many vehicles using trailer hitch luggage racks, which extend beyond the rear of the vehicle.  Transportation code 621.206 states “A vehicle or combination of vehicle may not carry a load that extends more than three feet beyond its front bumper or, except  as permitted by other law, more than four feet beyond its rear.”

The hitch racks sold in stores are for the most part within regulation. A problem we see is when people use these racks without carrying anything on them.  The racks have a very low profile and the vehicles behind them may not be able to see something extending from the rear of the vehicle.

A good idea is to affix a small stick with a bright colored flag attached on the end of the rack, with the flag being higher than the base of the rack. This will warn drivers behind you there is something on the rear of your vehicle. Many of the trailer hitch platforms come with these type warning devices already installed, but the price on those models is more expensive. Also, if you happen to be hauling a load which extends past the maximum length, you are required to attach a flag on the end of the extension.   

Wess Winn holds a master peace officer certification. If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at wwinn@waxahachiepd.org or call 972-937-9940, Ext. 212. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.