Towing Accidents - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-10-2012, 04:21 PM   #1
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Name: Norm and Ginny
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Towing Accidents

I reviewed trailer accidents in the state of Alabama on Dangerous Trailers looking to see the cause of accidents.

I reveiwed the first 18 accidents listed for Alabama, the vast majority were the result of loose trailers careening into an approaching vehicle. The tow vehicle in all cases but one were trucks, normally deemed adequate tow vehicles. In at least 16 of the 18 cases the trailers were utility or construction trailers, the other two cases were not well defined as to trailer type.

Many of these accidents may have been prevented with a break (brake) away switch that activates the trailer brakes when the trailer seperates from the tow vehicle.

Due to the weight of fiberglass trailers, many small trailers did/do not come with these switches. (My 1991 Scamp nor my son's 1995 Casita did not come with one.) It is worth considering the addition of a break away switch. They cost little and it takes little time to install.

A battery is required for a break away switch to activate electric trailer brakes. Utility and construction trailers typically do not have batteries, this helps explain why there so many of the accidents were caused by loose utility/construction trailers.

On another site a survey of owners problems while towing listed an unlocked hitch ball as the number one problem owners had experienced.

I hope this is plenty of reason for everyone who does not have a break away switch to add one.

Safe Travels
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:54 PM   #2
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Installed my breaks last week and also installed a breakaway kit. I've been towing trailers for 40 years without any mishaps, but like the added safety I now have. All worked well in the testing phase.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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Something else to consider is a lock on your hitch. It is possible for someone to unlock your hitch in a parking lot and you may not notice it until it is too late. Lock it as a safety measure.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:28 PM   #4
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I just went and purchased a break away switch for my Scamp and the guy at the store could not believe they would have sold the trailer without one. It seems really strange that they cost so little but they are not being added to our new trailers even though they come with electric brakes!
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:48 PM   #5
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I am told that they are required in BC, if your trailer has brakes.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kootenaigirl View Post
I just went and purchased a break away switch for my Scamp and the guy at the store could not believe they would have sold the trailer without one. It seems really strange that they cost so little but they are not being added to our new trailers even though they come with electric brakes!
It is kind of surprising. Federal Law requires a breakaway brake system on trailers that are heavy enough to require brakes. It's a simple add on and should at least be included in the options list. However, Scamp does NOT include a battery in the basic package. A battery is required for a breakaway switch to work.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:54 PM   #7
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I, too, cannot understand how they can be made or sold sans emergency break-away (dynamite pack) switches when they have brakes & battery.

My wife and I formerly owned a dealership and distributorship for construction trailers. We had them manufactured to our specs. It was law (then) that they had to have a complete safety inspection or they could not be sold.

The "dynamite pack" was one of things that was tested along with proof that ALL wheels had brakes, plus coupler was rated for a minimum of "X %" above trailer's certified gross weight, plus trailer-rated rims, plus trailer-rated tires, plus, plus, plus etc.

Around here, the insurance companies will (like nearly every major company) spend a zillion bucks to get out of a two hundred dollar claim, for fear of setting a precedent that may haunt them in future, so if ya get into a towing accident, and you fail to meet even ONE of the requirements - yer screwed!

I am told (have no evidence) that there is move afoot to ban surge brakes on trailers due to the risks of a trailer running away following a break-away.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
I reviewed trailer accidents in the state of Alabama on Dangerous Trailers looking to see the cause of accidents.


Interesting information. Can you tell me how you were able to find it? Cause I would love to look up that info in area's that I travel.

Alabama doesn't seem to have a large population something like 95 people per square mile. It would be interesting to see satistic's for more heavly traveled roads. Is there specific place to find that kind of stuff out within State websites? It would be great if we could have a sticky that posted information like that.

Great info on breakaway!
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post

A battery is required for a break away switch to activate electric trailer brakes. Utility and construction trailers typically do not have batteries, this helps explain why there so many of the accidents were caused by loose utility/construction trailers.
Norm,
I'm a little surprised to read that statement ( the part that I put in bold type ). Around the places where I live anyway, that is not the case. For instance, between our stable and the neighbors, there are seven horse trailers, and eight other trailers that range from flat deck goosenecks to bumper pull flat decks, and all of them are breakaway safety equipped. Many use a small battery such as would be used in a motorcycle.

I suspect that at least some of the runaway trailers like cargo or construction trailers happen due to the guy simply not being careful about hooking up, and poor maintenance on the the parts, such as having a dead or disconnected breakaway battery. It's sad to see how a lot of trailers are so poorly maintained. A walk thru the parking area during a large horse show will reveal many trailers that makes one shake their head.

geo

EDIT: regarding surge brakes.....if I were to acquire a trailer with surge brakes, I would remove them and replace them with electric brakes.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:43 PM   #10
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It appears that there are several jurisdictions where "homebuilt" trailers are legal, sans even a most rudimentary inspection for safety.

In my travels to car shows and races, I have seen many that do not have brakes on all wheels (they may have brakes on one axle, out of two or three axles) homebuilt trailers using old Mobile Home axles (many of which never had bearings - they has brass bushings as they were intended for ONE TIME use - trailers that are clearly undersized for the job (put a '69 Caddy onto a trailer made by taking the body off the frame of a Boler 17, putting a plywood floor onto the Boler Frame, add ramps to get the Caddy up onto it, tie the Caddy down with a single "comealong" at each end, and away we go on the bald 20 year old bias-ply tires.

"Been doin' it like that for for years!. Ain't never had no accidents! Whaddaya mean brakes? On a Trailer? Are you nuts?"

And this is a $100,000 show car he is carrying! For an extra $2,000 he could have a trailer that is safe and legal.

Worst places I have seen for lack of enforcement of safety srandards:

Washington State, Oregon, Montana, Saskatchewan, and the Dakotas

Not familiar with 'Bama or states East of the Mississippi or South of South Dakota

And, by the way, on the "DangerousTrailers" site, they are bit caustic about states where no registration or license is required for certain classes of trailers. I agree fully. How can you enforce safety standards for a trailer that isn't even required to be licensed?
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:44 PM   #11
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george,

I know very little about horse trailers or construction trailers except most of the accidents were caused by loose trailers and were mostly utility trailers. When I see the typical home style utility trailer it seems to not have brakes and definitely not a battery.

Jim,
Interestingly one of the trailers of the 18 cases was a utility trailer that had a lock. The utility trailer came loose because the thief had just rested the tongue on the ball while trying to steal it.

I've also heard about people unlocking one's ball while you're shopping. Any stop is a good time to do a trailer inspection, to touch the tires, to touch the wheels,......

Robin G.
The site is Dangeroustrailers.org. The information is broken down by state. This is in no way a scientific site. I've gone there over the years because there is a lot of concern about trailer accidents on various sites I've belonged to and not many sources of information.

I've only met two people who've had accidents towing a trailer in 11 years of 7 month a year RVing we do, both towing with appropriate large trucks but lost control somehow.

Our site spends a lot of time being concerned about tow vehicles when a casual review of the actual accidents indicates it's more the operator (loose trailers) being the critical element. Certainly this is my reason for posting about the break away switch.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:02 PM   #12
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Norm,
Okay, well it's true and I agree regarding small "utility" trailers that don't have brakes. Those would be small trailers like you'd buy at Lowe's to haul the lawn mower around on.
But when I think of "construction trailers", I think of larger trailers, like we see hauling a Bobcat or similar on, and for sure, that class of trailer would have brakes.

Bottom line is I would guess is that when a trailer comes completely loose from a tow vehicle, it's generally down to negligence, because it would require the failure of several different systems. After all, that's why we have safety chains. And break away brakes.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:12 PM   #13
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Robin G.
The site is Dangeroustrailers.org. The information is broken down by state. This is in no way a scientific site. I've gone there over the years because there is a lot of concern about trailer accidents on various sites I've belonged to and not many sources of information.

Thanks Norm! I will check it out.......


Our site spends a lot of time being concerned about tow vehicles when a casual review of the actual accidents indicates it's more the operator (loose trailers) being the critical element. Certainly this is my reason for posting about the break away switch.

Break away information is crucial, thanks for posting it!
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:40 PM   #14
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george,

They weren't all your basic utility backyard trailers, from memory, one was a lawn service, a back hoe, a tractor and, equipment trailer, AL power company hauling poles, a heavy equipmant traier, runaway towable barge (???).


In one case a boat fell off a trailer.
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