What does a runaway trailer really do?

   #1  

MillWeld

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Feb 17, 2011
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Durham NC
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Say you have functioning brakes and breakaway kit and the unthinkable happens: the trailer breaks loose someway. The trailer front will dig into the highway, the brakes will lock but I can't imagine it will come to an orderly stop. And if it did how safe is a "parked" trailer on the highway? It seems to me that with or without a breakaway kit the trailer is gonna do who knows what before it stops. Either way its ugly. Has anyone seen this happen or worse has it happened to you?
Bob
 
   #2  

Diamondpilot

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Daleville, IN
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Jinma 254/284 Ford 861 Powermaster at work
I have never had it happen but I know of a few folks that it has happened to. One came out good the other not so.

I always make sure that my brake away cable is just a tad shorter than the safety chains that way if it comes off the ball it would hopefully engage the brakes but keep it chained to my truck so that I can control it to a safe stop.

What I dont agree with is no safety chains on a 5th wheel. I seen a Dodge truck pulling a large 3 axle toy hauler when it came lose. Was not pretty at all. Tore the tailgate right off the truck then the trailer veered off the road with the crown and took out a telephone pole. It was a total loss.

Chris
 
   #3  

300UGUY

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From personal experience, it went into somebody's front yard, the right front corner hit a oak tree that was at least 3 feet in diameter. 4 feet of 6 in channel ended up sticking out of the other side of the tree, after hitting it pretty much dead on. A local guy with a huge IH 4wd couldn't pull it out. He cut it off on each side. It had been the side frame of the trailer. I paid the homeowner $150 for damages. I was very, very, lucky. I was doing 55 on a 2 lane when it let go. If it had hit a car or a person, I'd have had that on my conscience forever. I had the trailer repaired, it cost about $500. This was about 12 years ago. I had used that trailer for about 10 years, without safety chains, reasoning that all I ever did was short hauls in the neighborhood, usually hay. I had rented a trencher a couple of weeks earlier, it needed a 2 in ball. I forgot to change it back, the trailer used a 2 & 5/16 ball. All in all, it was a cheap lesson. It could have been a whole lot worse

Btw, the darn tree is still standing. It is less than 20 feet from the house.
 
   #4  

timswi

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I had this happen at low speed (once, thank God) the chains keep it behind you, so it your problem and if all goes well no one gets hurt except maybe your own truck which should be the last concern..The breakaway locks the breaks and all heck break loose...The tongue may fall on the chain cross catch (maybe,unlikely) ..The jack will be destroyed most likely...But it is all most likely recoverable if you react correctly...

Best offense on that is a good defense. Make sure the chains are hooked up correctly and the break away works. Sadly, the break away is probably the most ignored thing that I've seen...A battery and a cable, out of sight, out of mind. I test mine at every hookup. I also jack the back of the truck up after hookup to test the latch..OCD maybe, but it has worked for me since my unfortunate incident 10+ years ago.
 
   #5  

Cat_Driver

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Coachella Ca.
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Happened to me once, but I'm a safety nut, so I had enough strong chain to hold it all together. For me the safety chain is you first and best defense if things go sideways.

My thoughts on trailer brakes are that at least the trailer won't travel into the other lane if you're on a four lane highway. If you're on a 2 lane, all bets are off.

I agree that the brakes would just cause another different problem, but I think better to have them than not.

Lets say you have a trailer that tracks perfect, and it jumps off the hitch, and let's say the balance is suck that a lot or eight if off the front hitch. Not the trailer would travel quite a distance with the tongue in the air.
 
   #6  

zzvyb6

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michigan
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jd 1070
Say you have functioning brakes and breakaway kit and the unthinkable happens: the trailer breaks loose someway. The trailer front will dig into the highway, the brakes will lock but I can't imagine it will come to an orderly stop. And if it did how safe is a "parked" trailer on the highway? It seems to me that with or without a breakaway kit the trailer is gonna do who knows what before it stops. Either way its ugly. Has anyone seen this happen or worse has it happened to you?
Bob

Accident shuts down M-59 | Livingston Daily | livingstondaily.com

Not exactly what condition you asked about but close....
 
   #7  

gengine

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Western Wyoming
I had an old dodge pickup with the gooseneck stock trailer in tow. Just dropped off steers to market, and headen home. My left front steering tire blew out, the truck sharply veered to the left, when I hit the shoulder the rim dug in flipping the truck, and pulled the flip up gooseneck ball right out of the bed. The trailer went skidding on the twin jacks to the other side of the road, and into the ditch. The guy behind me stopped to check on me, and said it all happened within 5 seconds. The truck was a total loss, the trailer was fine, but needed new tires for being locked up for around 200 feet. I walked away with a broken thumb and a stiff body. I'm glad there wasn't anybody around me, and the only guy behind me was a safe distance. I couldn't imagine not having a functioning break away device.
 
   #8  

RobertN

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I saw it happen once. A guy was towing a maybe 19' ski/fish boat on a single axle trailer. He approached an intersection where there was a major crown in the road. That hitch popped right off. The boat/trailer actually passed him on his right, kind of riding in a gutter next to a sidewalk(in front of a small store). Along that side walk was a fire hydrant, and a telephone pole; missed those by inches. The sidewalk ended at the end of the stores parking lot; next door was a vacant lot. The trailer followed the gutter, which ended into a swale. The trailer kinda followed the swale for a short distance, before it slightly veered in to the vacant lot and came to a stop. Guy was going about 40mph; that boat must have gone basically straight for 250 feet at least.

I am still amazed, 20 years later, that the boat/trailer didn't veer wildly or spin or something. It just pretty much went straight.

I have no idea why it happened, safety chains etc.
 
   #9  

dclynch

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kawkawlin,mi
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Rhino International
Seen this one time a guy was pulling a home made trailer made from a box of a pick up. He had that loaded as full as possible with wood he was going south on I 75 I was going North when the trailer came off the ball it tried to pass him on the left he ended up turning his truck into it and sent it into the median you can only imagine how big my eyes got when I saw this thing coming across the median. Lucky for me there was a deep ditch in the middle and the tongue buried it self and the trailer came over on its top. Needless to say at the next rest area I had to stop and change my shorts. I will never forget that and always double check my connections before hitting the road towing any trailer
 

Dr Dave

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sioux city, ia
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Witnessed this twice, first was a portable air compressor with a pintle hitch, truck had a standard ball, no safty chains, but had a breakaway. Truck entered the interstate on a curve, the trailer came off, brakes locked and it crashed into the center concrete barrier, right in front of us.:eek:
The second time, we were next to a guy with a large boat, with tripple axels, in an S-10 pickup, 1 7/8" ball, 2" trailer hitch, he hit a dip at 35 mph. By the time he stoped, the jack was torn off, and the back of the truck was all beat up, his wife got out and chewed his @ss, the whole time she was helping him lift it up.:laughing: I was sure glad he had safty chains, the break away cable and the wiring had been dragging prior to coming unhitched. Its amazing what some people will risk when towing. Stay safe and watch out for the idiots!

Dave
 
 
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