Trailer Towing, Safely

Jonesboro (kait) - Trailer accidents resulting from the trailer becoming unhitched are on the rise. But it doesn't have to happen to you.

A lot of us here in Region 8 have trailers in our backyards. We hook them up once a year and haul stuff to the dump but when we do that, do we use the safety chains and do the lights work? are we being really safe when we haul them on those roads out there?

To some a trailer is a necessity.... To the rest of us, an occasional trip to the land fill or hauling the horses to a show.

A recent study has shown that trailer usage is on the increase and runaway trailer accidents are on the rise also, sometimes resulting in injury or deaths on the highways.

The study says that most accidents occur with occasional use trailers, like boat trailers or medium or small utility trailers.

These accidents occur when the trailer unhitches from the towing vehicle.

Rodney Sims the service manager at Mashburns, RV, "You get these people out who say "so and so" knows they've done it before, they think they know but they don't"

A runaway can be prevented by following a few simple steps.

Sims, "Need to make sure you got the proper ball for the trailer you're carrying, be it a 7/8 inch, 2 inch, 2 5/16."

The proper electrical connections for turn signals and brake lights.

Sims, "Make sure you have safety chains for the trailer. It's one of the mandatory deals to where if the trailer does come loose from the vehicle it does have a chance to help protect it and stop it."

Sims says the balls that are mounted right on the bumper aren't a good idea as the bumper might not be as strong as you think. "Really get to looking at that tag. It may be stamped a thousand pounds weight carrying capacity but only a hundred pound tongue weight."

Tongue weight means how much weight on the tongue of the trailer at it's hook up.

And remember, even the biggest vehicles have limitations.  Just because you've got an sport utility vehicle it doesn't mean you can haul something this big. Check your owners manual.

Using the right stuff to hook up your trailer will make your tow easy and safe. New trailer owner Charles Billman even takes one more step with his hitch. "I have a lock that goes through it so it won't even come off."

Take a few miles to get used to driving with a trailer hooked on, with a smaller trailer it's easy to forget it's there.  Taking that five extra minutes to make sure you've got the right sized ball, the right sized hitch, and hooking up the safety chains can be the smartest thing you've ever done.

Safety chains and signal lights are mandatory on all trailers, if it weighs over 3000 pounds you must have electric trailer brakes and a breakaway switch.