A reminder to properly secure trailers and cargo

Getting ready to head out for a day or more of boating, camping or other recreation?

Make sure the equipment being hauled gets to the destination without problems that can ruin that outing.

As part of the June Law of the Month, the Wisconsin State Patrol reminds motorists to ensure that trailers carrying boats, campers and other items are in good mechanical condition, safely attached to the vehicle and that the cargo is properly secured in trailer or truck bed.

“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 Ryan Chaffee of the Northeast Region/Fond du Lac Post. “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 can result in a $200 citation under Wisconsin law, with two demerit points added to a driver’s license.

More information on 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,” Chaffee 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.”

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