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How can I avoid a trailer accident? What should I do if a trailer ahead of me comes loose?

Have you ever noticed how semi-trucks without trailers don’t seem as scary? Or how pickup trucks with attached trailers do? Although you may not personally make the correlation, the reason why some people have issues with trailers is because they’re flat-out scary.

They’re scary because they are dangerous.

Since trailers are attached to trucks (and vehicles) by a hitch, they aren’t as stable as if they were attached directly to the vehicle. The hitch means the truck-and-trailer are not a single unit but more of a connected pairing, rather like a joint. For example, look at your forearm and wrist. When you move your arm, your forearm stays straight and moves only along one plane, and when you stop, it stops. However, since your wrist is connected by a joint, it flops around and can move side-to-side, up and down, and out of synchronization with the forearm.

The same thing can happen to a trailer: it may move independently from the rest of the truck. The hitch—much like a wrist joint—allows free range of motion but is a point of weakness. As a result of this weakness, when trailers hit bumps or start to swerve out of control, they can detach or crash straight into another vehicle, causing serious damage.

Now that you know the risk, do you think that it should be a priority to know what to do if you’re stuck behind a troubled trailer?

Safety Guidelines to Protect Against a Trailer Collision

When a trailer gets out of control and has no way of stopping, it will crash into anything that gets in its way—including you, your car, and your family. Considering how heavy trailers can get (even unloaded pickup trailers can weigh more than 500 pounds), a collision could potentially be deadly.

Thankfully, you can protect yourself and your family from such a collision by following these simple driving guidelines and emergency maneuvers when near a semi- or pickup truck trailer:

  • Keep your distance. Keep a minimum of two car lengths between your front bumper and the back of a trailer—the more space, the better. This space will not only give you room to maneuver if the trailer detaches, but it also gives the truck driver a clearer view of your vehicle to avoid sudden stops.
  • Give the truck room to turn. Allow a truck a lot of room while turning. This will prevent you from getting caught in the driver’s blind spot, as well as keep you out of the way of a swinging or swaying trailer.
  • Pay attention. Stay constantly alert for signs that the trailer may be in trouble or out of control. Swaying, jerking, shaking, or jumping can be a sign that the hitch isn’t secured properly.
  • Move out of the way. If you notice signs of distress from the trailer, increase your distance and get out of its path. Get into another lane, move off to the side, or take a different road. Although changing your course may be inconvenient, it could save your life.
  • Steer, don’t brake. If a trailer detaches from a truck, it still has built-up momentum and speed. It won’t stop immediately, just as you won’t stop immediately when you apply your brakes. Therefore, to avoid colliding straight into a loose trailer, try to steer away from it, either off the road or into the next lane (if that lane is clear). This will not only help you avoid the trailer, but it will also prevent braking injuries and rear-end collisions from the people behind you—collisions that could possibly push you into the trailer anyway.

Need more information about truck and trailer accidents, injuries, and claim options? Feel free to browse our site, or call us directly at 888-244-5957 for additional advice, guidance, and support.

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