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Trailer Safety Week (June 5-11) is an annual nation-wide awareness campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of being committed to trailer safety, educating users about proper trailer maintenance and usage and creating a stronger partnership and alliance between stakeholders of the industry including trailer dealers, manufacturers and end-users.

According to a study conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration, over 400 people have died every year in accidents involving utility trailers towed by passenger vehicles. Studies revealed over 20,000 people have to seek medical attention every year in accidents involving utility trailers towed by passenger vehicles.

Towing Safely

Towing involves the interaction of a number of components: the driver, tow vehicle and trailer. Each of these contributes to the towing experience and safety of the combination. The driver is responsible for selecting the right tow vehicle and trailer for the load, hitching the unit, loading, steering, speed and braking.

All components of the tow vehicle and trailer effect towing.

Safe and proper driving is a critical piece of trailer safety. Drivers should be focused and limit or eradicate distractions.

Hitching

There are various devices used to hitch a trailer to a tow vehicle. Understanding hitches and the proper hitch for the trailer and load is important to ensuring a safe and smooth towing experience. After deciding the appropriate hitch system, properly hitching the trailer to the tow vehicle will help to ensure the combination remains attached, and should the coupler fail, correctly attached safety chains should be your next line of defense.

Loading

A properly loaded trailer is easier to control. The most common reason for losing control of your trailer is improper loading. Weight distribution, both front-to-back and side-to-side is vital as is cargo securement. However, it is important to note that trailers may be built for hauling specific items, such as a cement mixer, and the trailer owner’s manual might advise a specific loading technique for safe towing that does not fall within general rules of thumb.

Remember, the first step in loading should be to read your trailer owner’s manual and follow its instructions.

The Right Tow Vehicle and Trailer Combination

Towing a trailer will impact how any vehicle drives. The larger the towed object in comparison to the tow vehicle, the greater the performance impact will be. Thus, knowing what your tow vehicle is capable of towing is just as important as selecting the right trailer. Vehicle manufacturers provide a “tow rating” which is the maximum weight of the towed trailer when fully loaded. The GVWR of the trailer should never exceed this tow rating, even if the trailer will not be fully loaded.

Trailer Maintenance

Regular trailer maintenance is critical to ensuring the longevity of your trailer, as well as making sure you are able to tow to your destination safely. Before towing, make sure your trailer and its many components are in safe working order. Worn or broken trailer parts can cause loss of control and injury may result. You must inspect, maintain and service your trailer regularly to insure safe and reliable operation.

Compliance Verification Program

The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) has made it easier for consumers, dealers and manufacturers to ensure compliance with safety standards through its Compliance Verification Program (CVP). NATM compiles Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and industry best practices concerning trailer construction and uses those standards to verify compliance at member facilities on a regular basis. Participation in, and the successful completion of the program is a mandatory component of NATM membership.

For more safe driving practices, contact INSURICA today.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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