Unsafe Trailers – Safe Towing’s Up to Us

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Unsafe Trailers – Safe Towing’s Up to Us

They’re out there and hauling everything imaginable! Most are not safely attached to the tow vehicle or improperly maintained; they are endangering you, me and our families.

When it’s time to hitch up the trailer and go… you hitch up and go. But do you really know what you’re doing dragging all that weight around behind you?

According to recent studies, many drivers use their vehicles to tow, but have limited knowledge about what’s going on behind their vehicle. This often puts themselves and others at risk while traveling our highways. Regardless if you’re hauling yard trash to the dump or heading to the boat ramp for a day on the water; this kind of responsibility can add up to serious accountability issues, legal liabilities, and higher costs for insurance. Even more important is the overall inconsistency in towing safety, rules and regulations. The lack of towing knowledge; often result in serious injury or death.

Trailers towed in Florida need safety chains, lights, proper hitches, hitch locks and if it weighs over a certain amount; must have brakes on one or more axles. Here’s something thattruck-boat baffles me about towing a trailer. In Florida a certain size trailer is required to have brakes, however the same trailer in another state does not. Hardly makes sense does it. Why do we need 50 different sets of guidelines and laws regulating towing and the safe operation of trailers? While I’m not a fan of the federal government regulations, when it comes to trailers and towing laws; I certainly believe the laws should be consistent nationwide.

According to five years of data collected through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, there are over 68,000 accidents each year involving passenger vehicles towing trailers. The average fatalities from these accidents surpass 440 persons per year. The average numbers of injuries from these accidents exceed 24,000 per year, and the average instances resulting in property damage goes over 43,000 per year. Overall, the bottom line; there is no excuse for these kinds of statistics.
There are unsafe trailers on the road everyday and regardless of the size or type it’s a lack of education or understanding of what’s involved to safely and properly tow a trailer. One finding of trailer and towing studies revealed that drivers towing; admitted they had no indication as to weight limits, braking, backing, passing, proper set up, and handling a trailer in tow. More surprising was most felt they didn’t need to learn.

A good starting point to help educate the consumer regarding the operation and towing of trailers, would be to standardize the laws and regulations nationwide. It would simplify the process, while answering the questions: What’s required on the trailer, safety chains, lights, hitch locking devices, break-away switch? How much can a trailer/vehicle weigh before it needs brakes? What type and size hitch is required?

Half of the battle is using the proper equipment. The other half is law enforcement. Law enforcement officers need to be trained on what the laws and requirements are for safe trailer towing so they can enforce them. Seat belts for example are designed to save lives and tickets are issued when they are not worn. So why isn’t at least a measure of attention paid to those who tow trailers with unsafe hitches, no safety chains, lights, brakes, or faulty tires? These are even more dangerous then not wearing a seat belt and are endangering everyone on and off the road. Isn’t prevention of accidents a part of traffic enforcement?

This article is owned by Capt. Woody Gore and is copyright protected. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by Capt. Gore. wgore@ix.netcom.com