Breakaway switch—a safety device that automatically activates the brakes of a towing vehicle if it separates from the trailer hitch.

Bus—any vehicle, including a trailer bus, designed, used, or maintained for carrying more than 15 persons, including the driver, for hire or for carrying more than 10 persons, including the driver, by any non-profit organization. (CVC §233)

Camper—structure designed to be mounted to a vehicle which provides facilities for human habitation or camping. (CVC § 243)

Camp trailer—vehicle under 16 feet in length designed to be used on a highway capable of human habitation for camping or recreational purposes. (CVC §242)

Curb weight—the weight of the vehicle with full fuel, water, and propane tanks.

CVC §—California Vehicle Code Section.

Dolly—a mobile platform that rolls on casters or wheels, used for moving loads.

Endorsement—permission granted by a licensing authority to applicants qualified by examination to drive specified vehicles.

Fifth-wheel—vehicle designed for recreational purposes to carry persons or property on its own structure and so constructed as to be drawn by a motor vehicle by means of a kingpin connecting device. (CVC §432)

GAWR—gross axle weight rating (for each axle)—the maximum weight that can be safely carried by each axle. Distribute the weight properly so you don't exceed the GAWR ratings.

GCW—gross combination weight—the total weight of a powered unit plus trailer(s) plus the cargo.

GCWR—gross combination weight rating—the maximum GCW specified by the manufacturer for a specific combination of vehicles plus the load.

Gross weight—the weight of the vehicle plus its load.

GVWR—gross vehicle weight rating—the maximum weight that your RV can carry, including driver, passengers, and cargo.

Hazardous Material—any material that poses an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property during transportation.

Housecar—motor vehicle originally designed, or permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation, or to which a camper has been permanently attached. (CVC §362)

Landing gear—equipment designed to support the weight of a vehicle and its load on the ground.

Motorhome—vehicle designed to provide temporary living quarters, built as an integral part of, or permanently attached to, a self-propelled motor vehicle chassis or van.

Tracking—also called offtracking. The rear wheels of a vehicle or trailer follow a different path than the front wheels.

Trailer bus—motor truck or truck tractor pulling a trailer or semitrailer designed, used, or maintained for the transportation of more than 10 persons, including the driver. (CVC §636)

Trailer coach—vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, designed for human habitation or human occupancy for industrial, professional, or commercial purposes, for carrying property on its own structure, and for being drawn by a motor vehicle. Includes "park" trailer. (CVC §635)

Payload—the discretionary weight, measured by subtracting the curb weight from the GVWR to determine the amount of cargo and passengers that you can safely carry. (Example: If your RV's curb weight is 10,500 pounds, and its GVWR is 12,500 pounds, the payload limit is 2,000 pounds)

Unladen weight—weight of a vehicle equipped and ready for operation on the road including five gallons of fuel, required equipment and permanent attachments to the vehicle. Does not include any load. (CVC §660)


When using this handbook, please remember that it is only a summary of the laws and regulations. DMV, law enforcement, and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code. You may buy a copy of the California Vehicle Code at any DMV office or visit our website at

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