Originally Posted by richyrich
I am looking for guidance from experienced towers of braked trailers. I act for a family whose son was killed when an unfit though theoretically "braked" trailer (not a boat trailer) left the hitch and mounted the pavement at speed. A defective jockey wheel lock had allowed the post/wheel to drop to ground whilst moving. Defective lock on hitch allowed force of this to release trailer from towbar. Brakeaway cable not fitted (police evidence that as the brakes were rusted solid it wouldn't have made any difference) So obviously a catalogue of defects.
Family want to campaign for all trailers (ie including braked) to have a secondary coupling to maintain some steering as is compulsory for unbraked trailers. The alternative might be annual MOT test for trailers.
Any comments as to whether there is any practical/technical issue with such a rule? As an unbraked trailer user, I have always used a secondary chain/cable attachment, and was astonished it wasn't compulsory for all. We are likely to be making representations to Dept for Transport. Thanks
While I have every sympathy with them for their loss, a permanent secondary coupling is not the answer. If a trailer is heavy enough to require brakes then having it coupled permanently rather than a breakaway cable is more dangerous than it breaking away.
A car is driving down the road towing a braked trailer with a breakaway cable. The hitch comes off the towball. The trailer brakes are applied and the breakaway cable snaps as per design. The trailer may well go off on it's own-but not far as it's being slowed by the brakes.If the brakes are correctly adjusted it won't stray far off it's original heading. It may cause an accident or hit something before it stops. The tow vehicle brakes to a halt,somewhat shocked but in control.
A car is driving down the road towing a braked trailer with an 'unbreakable' secondary coupling. The hitch comes off the towball.
The trailer will start to weave violently as the hitch is now almost free-floating.
The trailer brakes won't work as there's nothing for the hitch to push against.
The weaving trailer will cause complete loss of control of the tow vehicle as it drags it from side to side.
If the tow vehicle applies its brakes then the hitch will hit the rear of the tow vehicle off centre and the probability of a jack-knife is extremely high-the trailer is attempting to overtake the tow vehicle at an angle at this point.
You now have a far larger object out of control and
unable to apply the brakes without significantly increasing the risk to both it's occupants,other motorists and pedestrians. There is a very high possiblity of the whole rig overturning whether the brakes are applied or not.
What you won't get is any semblance of steerage for the whole rig. Almost as soon as the hitch comes off the ball all control will be lost unless at very low speed.
A trailer MOT is unfeasable simply because trailers would have to be registered or have a chassis number. There's too many around without and MOT stations would have to be kitted out specially to test surge brakes.
Besides, it's those that don't obey the law (for example the guy towing the defective trailer you mention) that will still cause the problem. The laws are already in place within the Construction and Use regulations to charge people for dangerous trailers-they just need enforcing.
What I personally think would help would be a proper series of public information films about keeping your trailer maintained properly.
BTW, I drive more miles in my car with a trailer than without-and I tow 40' trailers for a living.