Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tow bar criticism backed up ... In New Zeland

Note: In the United States we have no standard (Federal) on any Trailer, Boat Trailer, Hitches, Tow Balls ect on any trailer one pound under GWR 3,000 pounds.

Tow bar criticism backed up

By LEIGHTON KEITH - Taranaki Daily News

Last updated 05:00 20/08/2009

Deadly statistics involving cars towing light trailers on New Zealand roads appear to back up a coroner's call for tougher tow bar laws.

Ministry of Transport statistics show eight people were killed, 39 were seriously injured and 140 received minor injuries in crashes involving a light vehicle towing a trailer in 2008.

In the previous four years an average of six people were killed, 35 seriously injured and 173 received minor injuries.

Coroner Tim Scott has called for the New Zealand Transport Agency to make standards for the design and manufacture of tow bars compulsory and to conduct random inspections to ensure compliance.

The recommendation was made at an inquest into the death of former Taranaki cricketer Donovan Shelver, 28, who was killed when a boat and trailer came loose from the towing vehicle and crashed into his ute near Inglewood in November 2005.

Mr Scott also recommended people who frequently towed heavy loads carry out checks on tow bars for wear and tear.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the organisation had not had a chance to review the coroner's recommendations.

Despite the potentially fatal consequences trailer hire companies spoken to by the Taranaki Daily News yesterday freely admitted there was not much they could do to check a customers' tow bar.

BP Brookland's forecourt manager Craig Peters said staff were not able to check each and every tow bar before customers hired a trailer.

Mr Peters said he would support compulsory standards for the manufacture and design of tow bars. "I think it is a good idea really, you never know what you are buying.

"If you are towing something heavy it is a risk and you don't want it to fail," he said.

Jim Mahony, of Mahony Hire, said he did visually check tow bars but if the vehicle was warranted and registered there wasn't much else he could do.

"It's hard to see if it did have a crack underneath," Mr Mahony said.

He said a compulsory standard would be a good thing.

Shell Merrilands manager Jeff Robinson said it was the customers' responsibility to ensure their tow bars were up to standard.

"It should be part and parcel of what they should be doing for a warrant of fitness," Mr Robinson said.

"We haven't got a standard that says we have got to do that."

He supported the coroner's call for mandatory standards to be established.

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