Car Accident

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Trailer Detached from Truck, Causing Auto Accident in Yakima

A serious auto accident happened when a tailer came unhitched while being towed, hitting the car behind it.  Unfortunately, the trailer plowed into the driver’s side of the car behind it, totaling the vehicle of a 27-year-old pregnant woman.

The crash took place in Yakima, at W. Washington near S. First Street. Yakima Police officers and medics responded around 1:30 pm Monday afternoon. They had to extricate the victim from the crumpled car, transporting her to a local hospital. Luckily, she sustained only minor injuries.  Authorities were able to determine her unborn baby was okay following the crash.

The YPD issued the driver of the truck a citation.  View original truck-car accident news story here. 

Trailer Dangers

Auto accidents happen every day.  Realistically, most of them are preventable.  Hauling a trailer is an important necessity for many professionals and hobbyists alike. Yet a trailer can be dangerous, even downright deadly, if not installed and used properly. The most common reason hauling accidents occur is due to the driver’s inexperience and ignorance in how to prepare and operate his vehicle while towing. There is no certification or safety class required on how to tow a trailer behind a vehicle. Many assume that trailers can easily be driven away without further thought and serious repercussions. Wrong!

How to A Disasterous Trailer Auto Accident

When a trailer detaches from a towing vehicle, it is left traveling at a high rate of speed and can crush objects and vehicles behind them, seriously injuring or even killing the occupants inside.

To ensure that trailer related auto accidents like the one in Yakima won’t happen again, we have compiled a pre-towing safety checklist.

Pre-towing Safety Checklist:

  1. Check the gross trailer weight, tongue weight, and total weight distribution of vehicle and trailer. Owner’s manuals and visible stickers should be available for every vehicle.
  2. Make sure the correct hitch is properly installed on the towing vehicle. If you’ve never towed before, don’t just assume you know what you’re doing. Check the load equalizer or weight distributing hitch. Make sure there are no cracks in the tongue or ball.
  3. Maintain the bearings. Grease breaks down over time and heat dissipates the lubricant. Under-maintained bearings can overheat, seize, and even start on fire.
  4. Coupling a vehicle and trailer requires a coupler locking device and a safety pin, safety chains, and a breakaway cable-ALL CONNECTED PROPERLY.
  5. Confirm the pin securing the ball mount to the receiver is intact and the hitch coupler is secured. Test the breakaway switch. (Lubricate it every 3 months).
  6. Make sure chains are properly attached and any slack is crossed and secured. Never let a loose chain hit the road.
  7. All tires should be inflated to the weight limits set by the manufacturer and that all wheel nuts are properly torqued. Remember: tires on a trailer are just as important as tires on the towing vehicle.
  8. All lights-exterior lighting, brake lights, and blinkers-should be working properly. The electrical plug is a safety feature that connects the indicating lights of the vehicle to the trailer. They should work in unison when operated and are critical for safe operation.

For more information on the best hitch and ratings for your vehicle, learn more about how to Avoid Trailer Accidents here or visit How to Tow a Trailer Safely and Avoid Disasters for more professional tips on how to hook-up and maintain a trailer.

How t0 Safely Transport Your Trailer

What to Do While Driving

  • Adding a trailer to your vehicle increases the length and weight of it. That changes how it handles and means accelerating and braking will take more time. So be courteous to other drivers, and give yourself some extra time and space on the road.
  • Making turns can be more difficult, so allow for clearance on corners and lane changes. You must swing wider on bends and corners to make sure the trailer doesn’t go over crosswalks or in gravel.
  • Trailers will not always travel in the same direction as the vehicle, so braking too fast can cause your trailer to jack-knife. Hitting potholes and large bumps can also damage the towing vehicle, so slow down and take your time.
  • Towing too much weight or traveling in lower gears for an extended period of time can add additional stress to your transmission and engine. Increased weight decreases gas mileage, but maintaining a moderate and consistent speed can help fuel economy.

For any reason (a gust of wind, a downgrade, a pass by a larger vehicle, etc.) the trailer does begin to sway, the driver should assess the situation to determine the proper course of action. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to think about.

Safety Do’s – Good Towing Practice

  • Gradually reduce speed
  • Steady the steering wheel – sudden turns can cause more sway
  • Apply only the trailer brakes to help reduce trailer sway

Safety Dont’s – NOT Good Towing Practice

Do not:

  • slam on the brakes – jackknifing could occur
  • attempt to steer out of a sway situation
  • increase speed – trailer sway increases at faster speeds
  • tow a trailer that continues to sway

Consider reloading the trailer or perhaps adding a sway control or a weight distribution system with sway control.

Safely operating a vehicle that is towing a trailer takes skill and experience. Reach out for assurance that your trailer is and ready for the road. Following a safety checklist and performing proper maintenance will help prevent any mishaps in motion.

Our Auto Accident Lawyers are Here to Help

If you or a loved one were in a car accident with a vehicle hauling a trailer, contact the experienced team of professionals at Fielding Law Group today. We will help you recover and get back on your feet. Remember—Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!