It’s the law: trailers and cargo must be properly secured
For the Star Journal
It’s that time of year when many travelers are pulling boats, campers and hauling a variety of items along highways. As part of the June Law of the Month, the Wisconsin State Patrol reminds motorists to ensure that trailers are in good mechanical condition, safely attached to the vehicle, and that anything loaded into a trailer or truck bed is properly secured.
“We regularly see problems with trailers that break down or break loose, and items jarred loose from boats, trailers or truck beds that create hazards along our roadways,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Travis Wanless, Commander of the North Central Region State Patrol Post in Wausau. “To avoid a potentially dangerous situation, make sure before you leave home that everything is properly attached and secured.”
Things to keep in mind when towing campers or trailers:
- Make sure that trailer tires, axles and lights are in proper working condition.
- For towed equipment, ensure that the ball and hitch coupling assembly are the same size and latch securely. The latching mechanism must be able to prevent disengagement of the trailer while the vehicle is in operation.
- Two safety chains of proper length and strength must be attached between the vehicle and the trailer with enough slack to allow proper turning.
It’s a good idea to crisscross the safety chains. This creates a cradle that can catch the tongue of the trailer and prevent it from striking the pavement if an unexpected disconnection occurs.
Failure to properly secure a trailer (state law 347.47) can result in a $200 citation with two demerit points added to a driver’s license. More info regarding safety chains, cables and leveling bars can be found in Wisconsin Transportation Administrative Code 308.12. State law 348.08 details various requirements related to vehicle trains.Wisconsin law also provides for a $200 citation for “failure to properly secure a load” (348.10) or for “spilling a load or waste along a highway” (346.94).
“Items such as coolers, chairs, lumber or fishing equipment that bounce out of trailers or truck beds become dangerous obstacles that can damage other vehicles or result in crashes when drivers swerve suddenly to avoid roadway debris,” Captain Wanless said. “Covering a load is not required by law, but having a cover over a truck bed or trailer will help ensure that any load is properly secured and contained.”