In 1971 J. Standard Baker Quoted " Drivers Towing Trailers  Are Four (4) Times As Unsafe As Those In Cars Alone! 

Keven Moore: Raising awareness of safe towing practices during National Trailer Safety WeekJun 2nd, 2022 · 0 Comment

National Trailer Safety Week runs June 5-11. The mission of the campaign is to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways by raising trailer safety awareness through the education of end-users, dealers, and manufacturers on safe trailering practices and close communication gaps to make towing safer.

A trailer is an unpowered vehicle towed by a powered vehicle. It is commonly used for the transport of goods, materials, livestock, and even recreational toys. This can include boat trailers, livestock trailers, car hauler trailers, motorcycle trailers, fifth-wheel gooseneck trailers, farm trailers, travel trailers, pop-up camper trailers, and your simple utility trailers in all different sizes.

Safe trailering practices save lives, and with millions of trailers — used by businesses, local governments, and individuals — negotiating the nation’s roadways every day, it is crucial to ensure that trailers are being towed safely for the sake of those drivers towing the trailers, but also everyone else on the roadways.

According to Ron Melancon from over 700 people are killed each year and over 30,000 are injured. As a friend and colleague of Ron, I have watched him carry the torch for legislative changes and better awareness and education as he has dedicated his life to this cause to save lives.

With such statistics, this is a major safety concern that often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. Unfortunately, most people don’t see it as a concern, until a loved one is killed by a runaway trailer in a head-on collision. The internet is filled with such examples.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) addresses manufacturing guidelines for all types of trailers, however, most states have a limited number of laws to restrict their usage, and not one state requires person owners have their utility trailers inspected periodically.

The fact is if your trailer doesn’t exceed a certain weight or certain size, you or I can fabricate and weld our very own utility trailer out of scrap metal or wood in our garages or backyards, and there aren’t any laws restricting us from towing it down the road. For example, there are many farm trailers or wagons used for agricultural usage today being pulled on our rural roadways that were built in a barn decades ago and are not roadworthy.

Having the proper vehicle for the trailer and cargo weight is key to safely towing (Photo from Wikipmedia Commons)

Many end-users are undereducated on the proper use of trailers. They recognize that they would not purchase a car without seat belts or airbags, but do not understand that purchasing a trailer without key safety features can be just as dangerous to themselves and others driving down the highway. Often when I talk to clients in the insurance industry, the vast majority have never formally provided safety training on how to tow a trailer.

Businesses and personal owners of trailers must utilize the connections that dealers and manufacturers have with consumers to increase safety and awareness. From driving tips to trailer maintenance and components, the Trailer Safety Week website provides end-users with need-to-know information regarding trailer safety in an easy-to-understand format.

Many of us were thrown a set of truck keys and were told to haul a trailer full of trash, or furniture to a certain destination without ever receiving an ounce of safety training on how to hook, load, secure a load or safely drive a trailer. Many of us instead have watched our fathers hook a trailer up, and if he didn’t do it correctly, then you probably haven’t been doing it correctly either.

Today anybody can run over to the local Home Depot, Lowes, or Tractor Supply Store and buy a trailer, and be driving it down the road within 30 minutes, even if they don’t have a driver’s license.

The disturbing fact however is that people are killed every week because the trailer wasn’t hooked up correctly, where they may have been towing with the wrong size ball hitch, didn’t have the safety chains attached, had improper lighting, had unsecured loads, were missing a safety pin to secure the hitch, had too heavy of a load for the trailer, was improperly maintained or had an unbalanced load.

Trailer safety is largely ignored throughout the country. No state requires personal owners to have their trailers inspected, but if you operate a commercial trailer federal law requires that trailers be inspected if they l over 3,000 Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). If it’s under 2999 GVWR they are not required to be inspected, and commercial trailer owners can bypass such inspections if they register it as non-commercial.

There are 14 states that have no registrations for trailers, while the other 36 States have registrations, however, users can bypass this mandate by calling them “Farm Use” Or Agricultural Use.” Then 7 States still do not have a safety chain usage law.

In the state of Kentucky, all privately-owned and operated trailers used for the transportation of boats, luggage, personal effects, farm products, building supplies, farm supplies, or farm equipment do not require registration unless you are taking it out of state. However, all trailers must be titled in Kentucky. Frame-mounted on equalizer type hitch is only recommended and safety chains are required. 

Whether you’ve been hauling large trailers for years or you’re about to embark on your first family vacation with a small travel trailer, towing isn’t something to be taken lightly. To pull a trailer behind another vehicle, a driver needs to develop a whole new set of skills. Just the process of hitching and unhitching a trailer from a tow vehicle requires know-how and numerous steps and forgetting even one crucial element in the process could compromise safety.

The goal is to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways by promoting trailer safety awareness. To aid in this goal, consider the following safety tips:

• Inspect the trailer before each use. Look at the condition of the tires, bears, hitch, brake lights & turn signals, and structural integrity to ensure that it is safe to operate.
• Know the tow rating of the vehicle and trailer. The manufacturer provides this information in the owner’s manual. Ensure the vehicle is rated to pull the trailer you plan to use.
• The loaded trailer weight should never exceed the towing weight for which your vehicle is rated.
• When hitching your trailer use the correct hitch ball size to accommodate your trailer. Ensure that, once attached, the latch on the hitch is closed and pinned so it cannot come off.
• Check that, when hooking up the safety chains to the vehicle, the chains are crossed to provide a cradle if the trailer becomes detached.
• When driving with a trailer pay attention when making turns. Depending on the size of the trailer, you may have to swing further out to keep the trailer from hitting the curb.
• Drive an appropriate speed for the trailer and what you are hauling to prevent any issues. Allow more time for braking when driving.
• Use towing mirrors, when necessary, to better see your blind spots.
• Remember that towing a trailer can lengthen the amount of time needed to come to a complete stop.
• When loading/unloading equipment onto the trailer use a ramp to load or unload when using a trailer to haul wheeled or tracked equipment.
• Ensure that any equipment or cargo is tied down appropriately so it will not come loose during transport.
• Ensure there is proper weight distribution when loading your trailer, avoiding being overloaded either in the front or back of the trailer.
• Avoid using the trailer in ways it was not intended to be used.

Be Safe My Friends