Dec. 26--Ron Melancon can't believe it.
The 44-year-old Richmond, Va., crusader says the number of accidents and deaths caused by trailers that are unsafe or which are improperly secured to vehicles screams for attention, yet only one state is toughening the law to combat the problem -- his own, Virginia.
Georgia is not immune, and that includes Glynn County, where a runaway trailer claimed a life almost a year ago.
Just look at the nationwide figures since 2003, Melancon will tell anyone who will listen. The data was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
--Number of persons killed: 2,239
--Number of persons injured: 122,500
--Number of vehicles, trailers and other property damaged: 342,000
"We have people dying in Idaho because of trailers," he said. "We got people dying in Las Vegas. Can we connect the dots?"
Just this past week, a speedboat broke loose from the hitch of a pickup truck while being towed and landed on top of another vehicle in Albany. Fortunately, none of the three persons in the car was hurt.
A woman in Glynn County wasn't so lucky. In January 2007, a homemade trailer became unattached from a pickup truck on the F.J. Torras Causeway. The trailer crossed the centerline. striking the vehicle driven by Karen Simpson. The 48-year-old was killed.
Melancon, who dove into a crusade for stronger trailer laws after slamming into one himself earlier this decade, said he can't believe Georgia and other states are ignoring what is a well-publicized danger to all motorists.
Among other things, states should mandate a safety course for anyone who uses trailers and adopt uniform design standards. While there is a standard for trailer hitches, there is no standard for trailers, he said.
"Every county has different standards," he said. Every state has different laws. We should have a definition for what a trailer is.
"We have 80 people killed in Ford Pintos and what happens? Ford recalls the cars (built prior to 1976). Seven astronauts die in the space shuttle Challenger and suddenly all the other shuttles are grounded. We have 2,239 people killed by trailers, and we do nothing. Can someone explain that to me?"
He said it was an uphill struggle just convincing Virginia to pass a law requiring reflector tape on trailers.
"With lawsuits and damages, we'll are paying for this," he said. "We should not have to sue in this country to force states to use common sense."
Right now, Melancon is writing and speaking to anyone and everyone who will listen, especially those in the upper layer of government. So far, it's been like trying to go up against a 200 mph headwind.
"I've sent emails to governors," he said. "I'm trying to get Congress involved, too."
There's no headway there, either, but don't count on him quitting anytime soon.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I will continue to monitor this. I can't give up. If I do then my son will (think) this country doesn't care anymore."
Check out Ron Melancon's trailer safety site at wwwdangerous.trailors.org
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