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Small Trailer Safety, N B C Report


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#1 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 07:57 AM

Just watched an exposé on NBC about small trailers being a "weapon" and very dangerous (if not hooked up correctly)

They showed a bunch of video of trailers coming detached... In EVERY case, there wasn't a latch, the latch was open, etc. Rossen did his usual good job with overstating and sensationalizing the obvious that all trailers need safety chains. They even rode with a trooper and found two trailers without them on the road.

Now I feel very bad for the people they interviewed who lost family members to this type of accident. Again, every one wasn't hooked up right and someone following the law would've saved those lives... But what fries me is that they made it look like every trailer on the road will come unhitched constantly. You would've thought they would've learned their lesson in '93 when the fudged the report on gas tanks.

Morale of the story, trailer safe, check your hookup multiple times, make sure all will exceed the need for safety and be prepared for a week or so of over reactions caused by the media.
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#2 Texas Deere and Horse OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 10:03 AM

Alan, I agree that the news agencies should do a better job on reporting the truth. Anything running down the road is a lethal weapon if not used correctly.  I actually did the very same thing one evening with one of my smaller trailers, I hooked up everything, but forgot to lock the latch. Thankfully it was tongue heavy enough to stay on the ball the 61 miles I pulled it down the interstate to the house. I  got interrupted as I was finishing hooking the trailer up and missed the lock, could have been a very bad outcome if it had came lose, but the safety chains were hooked up. 


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#3 TAHOE ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 10:33 AM

I agree, they can and usually blow things out of proportion, but I have seen my share on the road that make you shake your head..

I will admit, I have improperly loaded a trailer wrong causing swaying issues, not something I never want to do again. My little 5x8 is horrible, 1 pound in the wrong place and I have my hands full with a tail wagger, I hate pulling it and usually take my big one if at all possible.

I usually double check the hitch lock, chains, etc, I was told DOT is cracking down in our area for improper trailers, hookups and loads.

 

Look at JLaws here on the forum, his hitch just broke off. He showed it too me when I visited at Christmas, there was no weld on it at all. Thankfully he only ended up with minor detns to truck and tractors.


Edited by TAHOE, January 22, 2014 - 10:34 AM.

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#4 hamman ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 10:35 AM

I too watched that report several months ago. The media always trys to make you think there is more to the story than there really is.

Now I have had a small trailer with a GT and plywood on it come unhooked from my tow vehicle as I was driving down the road. Luckily it came off the hitch and went right down into the ditch. In doing so it " broke " the safety chains as it left the hitch. The hitch was pinned to the vehicle by an approved pin and the hitch latch was pinned with an approved pin. The hitch was for a 1 7/8" ball which was on the hitch. The only thing we could find was that the latch that has the spring broke and let the inside of the hitch mechanism move back off the ball and as I hit a bump (crack) in the road it letgo causing the trailer to unhook and leave the road.     No injuries no damage to the GT or anything.  Found the spring broken after I got home and inspected the hitch on the trailer.

Now I was a police officer / deputy sherrif for 26 years and I have policed may accidents where a trailer has come off a car or truck and crashed. Fortunately none resulting in death. In most cases it was from an unsecured latch. Most not having any type of pin to keep the latch closed. Some were from wrong size trailer hitch on the trailer and wrong ball, 1 7/8" ball being used on 2" hitch. Some were from broken ball stems or lost nts from the bottom of the ball stem. Some vere from broken welds and some from vehicle hitches comming off the vehicle, usually rusted out.  (this actually happend to my sister and her husband pulling a 30' travel trialer)

Even today I try (never do I say every time) to check the hitch on my truck (s) when I hook up. I look at the hitch and make sure it is solid on the truck. I make sure I have the correct size pin to pin the hitch to the receiver. I make sure I have the latch pinned closed. I make sure that the latch on the trailer is latched. My safety chains have all been changed to the appropriate size for the loads I carry and are long enough to make a basket to catch the trailer in and they are in good shape.

Now most states don't require tail lights on a trailer up to a certain length and weight. I never pull a trailer without working stop, tail and turn signals on my trailer. I do check the lights each time I hook up. Even my 5th wheel travel trailer I check the hitch regularly both on the trailer and the truck.

 

I apologize for stealing the thread but because it has happened to me If I can get this out there for people to see from my experience it may help keeping someone from having a problem it is worth it.  

Thanks.    Roger.


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#5 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:11 AM

HAMMAN, TAHOE, BRIAN, and MN81 Thankyou. Everyone needs to be warned.

 

I had my 5 ton bounce its pintel open and unhook. It fell into the cradle of the safety chains and I was able to pull over and stop. I don't know if I forgot the safety clip on the hitch or it broke and fell out. I got a better clip and learned that there has to be a goodly tongue load from the trailer for stability and safety(mine was light enough that I was able to pick it up by hand). Everyone be forewarned, there is alot that can go wrong when towing and the consequences can be tragic. 20+ years ago I met a man whose trailer hitch broke, sending his trailer across I 95 in NJ where it headon hit a State Trooper, killing him. The investigation cleared the driver but, he has to live with that on his conscience. Good Luck, Rick


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#6 HDWildBill OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:35 AM

I agree for sure the news media is always sensationalizing what ever they are presenting.  I like the way they have an interview with someone and only show a particular part of the interview that backs what they want and is usually out of context.

 

Some good info on trailer safety, thanks.  When I hook my trailer up and try to also double check everything and I even give it a tug to try and pull it off the ball.  I also have a small lock I use to pin the latch closed and locked.  I had the latch come off the ball one time but luckly I was just leaving and the trailer was empty.  That's why I do that tug just to make sure.


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#7 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:46 AM

Bill, the lock is an excellant idea for safety and security. Good Luck, Rick
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#8 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:48 AM

What is bothering me right now about this topic is that between JLaws thread and this one, I've twice seen mention of safety chains failing to fulfill their purpose and breaking.  Are the chains being used too light?  I know mine are simply "S" hooks, slipped into holes around my hitch receiver.   


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#9 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:53 AM

I haven't been driving as long as some of you guys, but I have logged many many miles in on the road. 

 

I have seen TWO trailers come off.  One was one of those little uhaul box trailers that says no more than 55MPH on the fender.  It was attached to a small SUV of some sort.  He passed me he was going about 80.  Swung over 2 lanes and then passed another car on the right, as he was passing that car, the hitched popped up, the ton hit the ground, with his speed some how the trailer ended up on its side and was dragged down the road on its side.  Pretty scary, no one was hurt.

 

Second time was on a country road.  It was a small 1 horse covered trailer.  He was doing about 35mph, his hitch broke off the truck.  The trailer tongue dropped down, hit a ditch across the road, flipped the trailer over on its roof and skidded off the side of the road.  Pretty amazing train of events.  No one was hurt, trailer was empty.

I have pulled a few trailers.  Not a big trailer guy.  I had a nice 18' trailer I used to pull quads and Side by sides on.  And I have a small 5x8 trailer for various stuff.  I've never had an issue.  I put the lock down, then put one of those round rings with the pin on it throw the catch.  I always use my safety chains.  I pull with common sense too.

 

My biggest thing about this whole deal is people have been pulling trailers for YEARS and YEARS.  Why make this news presentation now.


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#10 HDWildBill OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 11:59 AM

That is a good question Howard.  I know I have seen chains too long being dragged on the pavement, sparks flying and thought that can't be good.  Kind of like using a grinder on them. 


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#11 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 12:13 PM

Crossed%20chains%202.jpg

 

Thats what I typically see.  I always upgraded my chains to a 3/8" high test with good hooks with keepers. 


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#12 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 12:19 PM

I have seen lots of bad trailer hookups and tried many times to educate.
I don't drive professionally, but pride myself on the fact that I err on the side of caution.
I double check before departure, stop as I get on the interstate, stop again about a half hour in.
Checking hitch, load, tires, etc.

Not that an accident can't happen at any time. The situation JLaws had is proof of that. I think his chains held, didnt they?

As for chains, s hooks aren't OK anymore according to the trooper I talked to, they now have to be snap clips. Here in PA, they must cross underneath.
Also, A clip with a retainer is a good idea for the ball lock. I also carry a bolt with a double nut in the glove box, just in case the lock comes up missing somewhere.

I don't mean to make light of the situation. Accidents are bad, people can be hurt, lives can be changed in terrible ways, but the over hype and distortion of the situation does no one any good. If you drive a trailer, be careful and take as few chances as you can. Even if you're late, spend a few extra minutes to make sure you're doing it right.

And if Mr. Rosen happens to read this; I know you are responsible for keeping your ratings up, but stop lying and distorting... We aren't all as stupid as you think.
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#13 hamman ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 12:32 PM

From what I have seen the picture of chains in Toomanys post it also what I typicaly see. They are way to light. If you would take the hitch off the ball and lay it in the basket it creates and then jump on it from the trialer to the toung it would fail. I too use 3/8" chain to replace the light chains on trailers. I also use chain hooks to hold the chains to the tow vehicle. I haven't heard of that. Most of the trailers around here are sold with chain hooks on the end. (at least the bigger trailers)

I had a smaller trailer with simular chains. My dad had me do the test I just posted. It failed and I fell on my head. I know of no real test to try this but if the chain looks to small it probably is. I guess good common sense and threads like this help us all to think again about something most of us (me included) take for granted. Please stay safe and be careful.

 

Thanks. Roger.


Edited by hamman, January 22, 2014 - 12:35 PM.

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#14 TAHOE ONLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 12:43 PM

Alan, no, Jess' chains snapped the S hooks when the hitch broke, sent his truck in a spin headed toward middle wall, trailer went over and hit guard rail. It was a shock when he showed me that hitch, I think it was a 2" drop. Where the drop was welded to tube, well, there was basically no weld, not sure how it lasted as long as it did for him.

 

Regarding the chains, I have looked at new trailer and IMO, they are under rated from the factory. I know I need to replace mine when weather breaks, the chain is not heavy enough for my standards and they are actually extended from someone before using a bolt to hold link together :wallbanging:

 

I too, also use a lock in the trailer hitch lath. Since it stays on trailer most of the time anyway when parked as security, I have to unlock it, might as well slap it right back on when hitched to truck.


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#15 HDWildBill OFFLINE  

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Posted January 22, 2014 - 01:43 PM

Alan, no, Jess' chains snapped the S hooks when the hitch broke, sent his truck in a spin headed toward middle wall, trailer went over and hit guard rail. It was a shock when he showed me that hitch, I think it was a 2" drop. Where the drop was welded to tube, well, there was basically no weld, not sure how it lasted as long as it did for him.

 

Regarding the chains, I have looked at new trailer and IMO, they are under rated from the factory. I know I need to replace mine when weather breaks, the chain is not heavy enough for my standards and they are actually extended from someone before using a bolt to hold link together :wallbanging:

 

I too, also use a lock in the trailer hitch lath. Since it stays on trailer most of the time anyway when parked as security, I have to unlock it, might as well slap it right back on when hitched to truck.

 

That's my thoughts as well.  I also have a plastic box that I keep my tie down straps and come along in and it has a small lock so if I should loose the lock I have a spare with me.  I have some good chains on my trailer but one of my chain hooks has lost it's spring so I probably need to replace it soon.


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