Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ensuring proper trailer connections saves lives

Ensuring proper trailer connections saves lives
Ron Melancon makes a profoundly valid point. If devices that don't threaten public safety are regulated in this country, then why shouldn't something that claims hundreds of lives annually fall under greater scrutiny and control?
There is no reason why it shouldn't, but, much to Melancon's dismay, communities and states have done little to nothing to step up enforcement of the thousands of trailers that are hitched to vehicles on any given day across this land and on any given road, street or highway.
The statistics, as Melancon is quick to underscore for the visually impaired, speak for themselves.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, improperly towed or built trailers are an extreme danger and nuisance in this country.
Since 2003 alone, trailers - or some part or parts of them - have broken loose from moving vehicles, killing 2,239 citizens. That is 2,239 lives, including a life in Glynn County about a year ago on the F.J. Torras Causeway.
The number of injuries they've inflicted on Georgians and other Americans is equally disquieting. In just the past five years, 122,500 individuals have sustained minor or major injuries.
Then there's the property damage, of course.
An estimated 342,000 vehicles, trailers and other property that includes fences, shrubbery and structures have received light-to-severe or total damage from the tip of Washington State to the bottom of Florida by runaway trailers or jettisoned, hurtling parts from poorly hitched or constructed trailers.
If nothing else, the nation or state ought to require some standards on their design and development.
Laws that require additional safety devices such as chains that reinforce, if not indeed ensure, the attachment of a trailer to a vehicle ought to be enforced every day in every community, including Brunswick and the Golden Isles.
Motorists should observe whether a passing trailer is chained to the bumper or another part of the vehicle and call police when they see that it is not. They might save a life or spare someone from needless injury.
State lawmakers ought to look into this and determine whether the industry - as well as act of trailer towing itself - is in need of a shake-up, in need of additional safety devices and checks and higher fines for those who fail to do either. The number of deaths since 2003 - 2,239 - says it does.

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