IS A SHARPER EYE NEEDED ON TRAILERS?
POINT OF VIEW. STREET BEAT
Q.It seems that every pickup driver with a lawn mower has a flatbed trailer attached. These stupid contraptions never have working lights, plus they're wider than the truck itself.
Instead of having DUI checkpoints, why don't the police stop every one of these to check on working lights?
- Annie P.
A.Annie, meet Ron Melancon.
He is a local driver who got a ticket in May 2003 after rear- ending a steel-mesh trailer. He said he couldn't see the empty trailer.
He then persuaded the General Assembly to pass a law requiring trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds unloaded to have two reflectors or 100 square inches of reflectorized tape on the rear.
The law is on the books. But take a look when you're driving, and you'll see that a lot of trailers are not in compliance.
And it gets worse.
A study this year of different types of trailers found that the lights they're equipped with often don't work.
"More than 50 percent [53 percent] of towing vehicles and trailers received only moderate or poor rankings on their electrical systems, which means that brake lights, turn signals and reverse lights may not work properly," the study found.
The study, by Customer Profiles Ltd. and Master Lock, involved inspections it did in June and July on more than 500 trailers, campers and other items.
The study also notes one of my pet peeves: that 44 percent of bungee cords studied were in poor or moderate condition and improperly placed, meaning they could fail and dump cargo on the road.
Melancon, who has become an activist on this issue, forwarded the study to me.
In addition to not enforcing the reflector law, "why are we accepting a failure rate of 50 percent" on the lights, he asks.
Good question. It's not that I want a lot of tickets handed out. But perhaps our traffic officials can keep a sharper eye on trailers.