Trailer Safety

Trailer Safety

Trailers are frequently used by IMT’s commercial policyholders. Both enclosed and open, trailers are used to transport tools and equipment from job site to job site. The most common causes of trailer accidents include lack of experience, speeding, high winds, overloading and exceeding weight ratings, poorly miscalculated turns, and miscalculated stopping distances. Pulling a trailer safely requires a special set of skills and procedures. Before a trailer is put into use, a pre-departure checklist should be followed. Some items to check include the following:

  • Check the tire pressure on vehicle and trailer. Verify the hitch, coupler, draw bar and other equipment are secured. Make sure the safety chains are crisscrossed and connected; not touching the road but with enough slack to make turns.
  • Ensure that the brakes, running lights, brake lights, turn signals and hazard lights are all working properly.

According to trailersafetyweek.com, shifting of cargo is one of the most common hazards that contributes to accidents and/or damage to vehicles, trailers and equipment. When cargo shifts, it results in trailer sway or additional stress on the trailer. This can cause cargo to become loose on the roadway, which can create a danger for other drivers. To ensure safe operation when pulling a trailer, the cargo must be properly secured. This can be achieved by the following:

  • Inspect all tie-downs for wear and tear damage, replacing when worn or damaged. Ensure tie-downs are properly rated for the load they are meant to secure. Tie-downs should also be secured to the trailer, not near the top rails.
  • Make sure cargo does not obscure the driver’s view. Cargo must be firmly secured on or within a trailer. This includes tools, equipment, chains, spare tires, etc. Large objects should be tied down directly to the trailer.

Remember, an enclosed trailer may not be sufficient for securing the load so additional securement is likely necessary to prevent shifting during transit. A good rule of thumb is one tie-down is used for every ten feet of cargo with a minimum of two tie-downs to secure any piece of cargo regardless of length.

According to the NHTSA, when parking a trailer, the following is recommended to ensure safety:

  • Avoid parking on grades or hills. Have someone outside the vehicle assist the driver into the space.
  • Apply the parking brake on the vehicle. Place chocks or blocks behind the trailer wheels. This will prevent the trailer from rolling away when the coupling is released.
  • An unbalanced load may cause the tongue to suddenly rotate upward; therefore, before uncoupling, place jack stands under the rear of the trailer to prevent injury or damage.

If you or any of your policyholders have any questions regarding trailer safety or would like to request a visit from an IMT Loss Control Representative, please feel free to contact the Loss Control Department.

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