A major step towards improving trailer safety was taken recently with the passage of Senate Bill 646. This new law requires all trailers have an emergency chain or cable that is capable of keeping the trailer attached to your car, truck, van, SUV, etc.
The connection between any two vehicles, one of which is towing or drawing the other on a highway, shall consist of a fifth wheel, drawbar, trailer hitch, or other similar device not to exceed 15 feet in length from one vehicle to the other. Any such two vehicles shall, in addition to such drawbar or other similar device, be equipped at all times when so operated on the highway with an emergency chain or cable that is structurally adequate to securely stop and hold the trailer being towed.
This regulation addresses a key safety concern for trailers: the fact that there was no requirement to have any type of chain or cable that would help ensure the trailer remains connected to a vehicle while on Virginia (VA) roadways. There have been instances of trailers attached with duct tape and string (talk about dangerous).
Since 1988, over 3,600 people have suffered serious injuries from detached, runaway trailers and 121 lives have been lost since 1975. Many of these trailer injuries and deaths may have been prevented if better regulations were in place to ensure trailers are properly attached to vehicles. Fortunately, this new law will help fix that problem.
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The law probably wouldn't have been enacted without the tireless efforts of Ron Melancon, a Richmond, VA man who has been an advocate for improved trailer safety. His web site, Dangeroustrailers.org, placed a spotlight on the issue of reforming trailer laws not only in Virginia (VA), but nationwide. We congratulate him on this legislative victory and hope to see further improvements in trailer safety down the road. We wholeheartedly agree with Ron that no life should be lost and no serious injury should occur due to a runaway trailer.