Towing trailers can be more likely to result in serious or fatal road accidents.
The Transport Research Laboratory (2011) analysed accidents in the five year period 2005-2009. They identified a total of 4,173 reported accidents involving at least one car or light goods vehicle towing, representing 0.5% of the overall reported accidents. Of these accidents, 100 were fatal (2.4%), 671 were serious (16.1%) and 3,402 were slight (81.5%). The corresponding percentages for all cars/ vans are about 1% fatal, 11% serious and 88% slight, so there is some evidence that towing trailers can be more likely to result in serious or fatal road accidents.”
If used for work then a trailer will fall under the usual requirements of PUWER to provide safe equipment and the need to carry out routine checks. In addition The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 specify the need for maintenance and use of vehicles so as not to be a danger to any person in or on the vehicle or trailer or on a road.
Good to Go Safety enables a tag to be attached to a trailer and serves as a reminder to carry out a pre-use inspection checklist before taking to the road. The trailer checklist allows a run through of critical component checks including chassis, brakes, lighting, wheels etc as well as the load itself. The tag can be attached using cable ties, close to the hitch point for maximum visibility and will advise users when the trailer is “Good to Go”. A tamper evident seal will help ensure the inspection checklist remains in place until the next inspection is due. A duplicate copy of each completed inspection checklist provides documented evidence of a safe equipment management system (SEMS) and could prove indispensable in the event of an accident.
“In Sweden trailers must be registered and pass a regular roadworthiness test. In 2010 they tested 236,876 light trailers (up to 3.5 tons). Only 62%t passed the test. Of the 38% that failed, 24% had severe defects, the most common in the braking system”. The UK does not currently include a similar testing process and as such self-regulation should be given serious consideration to ensure all trailers are Good to Go.