2019 Tennessee Code
Title 55 - Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 9 - Equipment — Lighting Regulations
Part 2 - Required Equipment on Vehicles
§ 55-9-204. Brakes -- Equipment required on various type vehicles -- Penalty.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 55-9-204 (2019)
  • (a) Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold the vehicle, including two (2) separate means of applying the brakes, each of which means shall be effective to apply the brakes to at least two (2) wheels. If these two (2) separate means of applying brakes are connected in any way, they shall be so constructed that failure of any one (1) part of the operating mechanism shall not leave the motor vehicle without brakes on at least two (2) wheels.

  • (b) Every motorcycle, and bicycle with motor attached, when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with at least one (1) brake, which may be operated by hand or foot.

  • (c)

    • (1) Every trailer or semitrailer of a gross weight of three thousand pounds (3,000 lbs.) or more when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and to hold the vehicle and so designed as to be applied by the driver of the towing motor vehicle from its cab, and the brakes shall be so designed and connected that in case of an accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle, the brakes shall be automatically applied.

    • (2) Subdivision (c)(1) does not apply to any trailer or semitrailer operating solely intrastate with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of seven thousand five hundred pounds (7,500 lbs.) or less and equipped with a hydraulic breakaway mechanism that is separate from the hitch itself and utilizes surge brakes. “Surge brakes” is defined as a system complying with SAE Standards J135, J661, J667, and J684 whereby the brakes of a trailer are actuated as a result of the forward pressure of the trailer against the tow vehicle during deceleration.

  • (d) Every new motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer sold after May 21, 1937, in this state and operated upon the highways shall be equipped with service brakes upon all wheels of the vehicle, except trucks and truck tractors having three (3) or more axles need not have brakes on the front wheels, unless these vehicles are equipped with at least two (2) steerable axles, the wheels of one (1) such axle need not be equipped with brakes, except any motorcycle, and except that any semitrailer of less than one thousand five hundred pounds (1,500 lbs.) gross weight need not be equipped with brakes.

  • (e) The requirements of subdivision (c)(1) and subsection (d) shall not apply to trailers that are not required to be registered and licensed and that are used by or on behalf of farmers:

    • (1) Transporting farm products or livestock from farm to market;

    • (2) Transporting products, equipment, materials or supplies used in agricultural pursuits from market to farm or in their transfer from farm to farm or from one (1) part of a farm to another part of the same farm; or

    • (3) Delivering the trailer to any farm.

  • (f) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

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