As the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) increases the number of inspections on light trailers it carries out, drivers are being reminded to check their trailers are safe before each journey.
In 2014 a preventable tragedy occurred when a trailer became detached and killed three-year-old Freddie Hussey as he walked along the pavement with his mother in Bristol. In a recent Department for Transport report 50% of trailers were found to be unsafe, because of this users are now being reminded to #towsafeforfreddie.
From September 2019 the DVSA will be enforcing safe trailer use with a year-long operation which will check thousands of extra light trailers (under 3.5 tonnes) and caravans. DVSA can issue fines and immobilise dangerous vehicles at roadside inspections.
DVSA Head of Enforcement, Laura Great-Rex, said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. By doing these roadside inspections we’re helping ensure light trailers are safe and legal.
“Make sure that your trailer or caravan is satisfactory by doing these simple checks and ensure that you #towsafeforfreddie.”
If drivers are unsure of how to tow or use a trailer, they should contact the National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA) for a free trailer check.
On every journey trailer users should check that:
- the trailer is correctly coupled to the towball or pin. Towballs can be checked by pulling up on the trailer handle or doing a jockey wheel test.
- A breakaway cable (costing about the same as a cup of coffee) is used on trailers over 750kg
- the coupling height is correct
- All cables are in good condition and do not drag on the ground
- there’s enough slack in the breakaway cable so that it does not accidentally apply the brakes.
A DVSA video and full guidance on towing can be found here
Sarah Smithurst of the National Trailer and Towing Association, added:“The NTTA is committed to towing safety. We work with DVSA, Highways England and the police to support the #towsafeforfreddie campaign.
“We encourage regular maintenance of both trailers & towbars to ensure roadworthiness, but you should do basic checks on every journey. Visit our website to book in for a free trailer safety check, or use our network of members to ensure your towbar is fitted properly & your trailer is serviced regularly.”
Trailer users should also ensure:
- they have the correct driving licence to tow
- they’re using a tachograph if needed
- they are aware of the maximum towing weight of their vehicle and the maximum authorised mass of their combined vehicle and trailer
- that wheels and tyres are fitted properly and in good condition
- that all necessary lights are present and working.