The Danger of Utility Trailers

Cobb Personal Injury Attorney - The Cooper Firm

The Danger of Utility Trailers

One minute you’re driving down the highway without a care, and the next minute you have a runaway trailer coming full speed at your vehicle.

It’s not something you expect every day, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 400 people killed and 20,000 people injured by runaway, loose, or improperly hitched trailers towed by passenger vehicles every year. There have been over 2,900 crashes involving these trailers in Georgia alone. The worst part is that there are hardly any safety standards or regulations for these trailers. Most of the time trailer owners don’t completely understand the proper and safe way to attach their trailers, and rental companies often do not fully explain to proper safety guidelines to renters.

There are three common ways that trailers become unhitched. The first way is due to using the wrong size trailer ball with the trailer coupler. There are three different sizes of balls. If you use a different size ball with a coupler than the trailer can easily come unhitched. Secondly, many owners fail to use two safety chains or the proper strength chains for the trailer ball. This can also cause the trailer to come undone. Thirdly, if a trailer hitch pin is not used to secure the trailer ball and coupler, then the trailer could come unhitched.

Georgia enacted a law in July, 2015 which requires Georgia drivers to use at least two safety chains to secure their vehicle to the trailer. Drivers are also required to have two taillights on the back of the trailer at a height between 20 and 60 inches. The taillights must give off a visible red light that can be seen from a distance of 500 feet from the trailer. Turn signals and side marker lights are required on trailers as well. If the trailer is over 3,000 pounds in Georgia, it must have a special permit and a separate braking system. If violated, the driver will receive a misdemeanor.

Although these seem like good standards, which they are, there are no standards for homemade trailers, or trailers less than 3,000 pounds. Smaller trailers can be registered and licensed for a $12.00 fee with no inspection. These smaller trailers are just as dangerous if not more, due to the lack of regulations, and they have cost many people their lives. If you own a trailer, be sure to take all the needed safety precautions to make sure that your trailer is visible and securely hitched to your vehicle. Hopefully, in the future, regulations and restrictions will be given for trailers under 3,000 pounds.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a trailer, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

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