Last night’s tragic crash north of Whangarei serves as a reminder for trailer owners to take extra care when towing as the holiday season approaches, according to a trailer specialist.
“It was awful to wake up this morning to the news that one person has died and a baby is in a critical condition after a collision with a runaway trailer” said Paul Tindall, of Trailer World Ltd in South Auckland. “While we do not know yet why the trailer became detached, there are some simple steps trailer owners can take to ensure that the same does not happen to them. This is particularly important over summer, when many people use camping trailers, boat trailers and domestic trailers on long trips, some of which have not been on the road much for a while.”
Trailers are subject to similar warrant of fitness rules to cars, being checked annually for the first five years, and six monthly thereafter.
As with cars, that on its own does not guarantee safety, and responsibility is with owners and users.
“First, make sure your trailer does have a valid warrant – check the expiry now so you don’t have a last minute rush at Christmas” said Paul.
“Second, if the warrant is valid but close to expiry, and the trailer has either been stored outside or used heavily, check for wear or corrosion
on the coupling, safety chain, nuts and bolts.
If you have one of the cheaper, bolted together trailers rather than a fully welded one, that includes the bolts holding the drawbar to the chassis. If in doubt, replace the components or take it to a garage or back to where you bought it.
“Third, check the ball is secure on your car’s towbar. A ball without a spring washer, lock nut or nylock nut could work loose on a long trip and come away.
"Fourth, check that the coupling on your trailer matches the towball on your car. There are two sizes in New Zealand, 1 7/8” imperial, and 50mm metric. Most are imperial, but a metric coupling on an imperial ball will be loose and with wear, could become dangerous.
“Fifth, take extra care when attaching the trailer. Make sure the coupling is properly closed and the pin is in the locked position.
Make sure you use the safety chain and do the shackle up tightly, preferably with pliers or a spanner.
“Last, take care with the security of your load, and do not overload your trailer. Every trailer has a GVM rating, but that refers to the weight of the trailer plus the load, not just the load, and some people will just fill up the trailer and assume it can handle it. If the trailer has ever been overloaded before, its strength could be compromised and a warrant check may not pick this up.
If in doubt, get an expert to check it out.
Also, get some decent tiedowns and covers. Large or heavy items coming loose from the trailer can be almost as deadly as the whole trailer coming away from the car.
“It makes me feel ill to think of last night’s awful accident, which will have affected the people responsible for the trailer as well as the victims and their families.
I just hope others learn from this to prevent more such incidents occurring” said Paul.
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