Unhitched trailers in Pennsylvania can cause deadly car accidents

From wildlife running into the roads to a distracted driver veering into their lanes, drivers face a variety of hazards while driving through Pennsylvania. A recent report on The Today Show highlighted another hazard that can be deadly: unhitched trailers.

The piece discussed how one woman lost her husband and young daughter when an improperly hitched trailer broke free of its tow vehicle. The trailer crashed into the SUV her husband was driving, killing both her husband and 3 year-old daughter. The woman and her infant son, also in the car, survived.

Unfortunately, this type of auto accident is not uncommon. A separate piece out of Virginia's Commonwealth University analyzed the issue. According to researchers with the study, there were 3,064 deaths from towing related accidents in the United States in 2011. Furthermore, trailers were connected to 11,660 accidents from 2008 to 2011 in the U.S. and resulted in over 13,440 deaths.

Unhitched trailer accidents and Pennsylvania law

Although exact statistics on the number of crashes and deaths connected to unhitched trailer accidents in Pennsylvania are not available, it is a problem in the state. In fact, the problem is so prevalent that the state has laws specifically addressing the issue.

Pennsylvania state law set a variety of requirements for recreational, semi and utility trailers, including:

  • Brakes. Trailers in Pennsylvania are required to have operating braking systems. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, braking systems are often not required on trailers that weigh less than 3,000 pounds.
  • Tires and wheels. The law also requires trailers be equipped with tires that are in safe operating condition.
  • Lighting. Trailers are required to have a minimum of one red stop lamp on each side of the rear of the vehicle. These lights must immediately illuminate when the tow vehicle brakes.
  • Body. The law also requires that the body of the trailer be in safe operating condition and that no protruding metal, glass or other loose parts extend from the trailer.

These are just a few of the laws that apply to trailers in Pennsylvania. These laws are designed to help increase the safety of the state's roadways, and those who violate these laws can be held accountable. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident with a trailer, compensation may be available. This could help cover the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation and potentially lost wages. Contact an experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyer to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.