Runaway Trailers Cause Catastrophic Injuries and Accidents in the United States

The Los Angeles Times says that there have been some 540 serious motor vehicle accidents involving runaway trailers in the United States since 2000. Hundreds of people have sustained injuries in these crashes, which usually involve at least one helpless victim getting caught in the wake of an out-of-control trailer. At least 164 fatalities have occurred in runaway trailer crashes in the last seven years—although statistics may be higher because news sources don’t always report these types of accidents.

The Times reviewed runaway trailer accidents involving trailers for transporting boats, gardening tools, horses, cars, and household goods. Many of these trailers were medium- or light-duty in size and owned by businesses or individuals.

Causes of runaway trailer crashes included failure to properly secure the trailer or follow other safety precautions due to ignorance, negligence, or carelessness.

Recent tragic trailer accidents include:

• In September, a motorist died in Florida when a runaway trailer struck her car.
• A Montana man was killed in August when a runaway trailer hit his pickup in a head-on crash.

• In 2006, Spencer Morgan and two of his 4-year-old triplets died when a 3-ton wood-chipper on wheels crashed into his mini-van. The third triplet, Ethan, survived his injuries, including a fractured skull.

The Federal Highway Administration says that there were 15.9 million light-duty trailers on U.S. roads in 2005. The Times says that the United States does little to prevent runaway trailer accidents from happening. A driver’s license is all that is required to tow a small or medium-sized trailer. No special training is required.

Accidents involving any kind of truck or trailer can lead to catastrophic injuries. The size and weight of a truck or trailer and the speed that it is going at the time of the collision can result in spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, massive internal injuries, and wrongful death. Drivers whose carelessness or negligence caused a trailer to come loose are liable for any injuries caused to other motorists, car passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

Runaway trailers leave random victims, Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2007

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