State Patrol Law Of The Month

Before you hit the road for a fishing or camping trip this summer, make sure that your boat, camper, trailer or other piece of towed equipment is securely fastened to your vehicle.

“For safe towing on roadways, state law requires that the ball and hitch coupling assembly must be the same size and must latch securely. The latching mechanism also must be able to prevent disengagement of the trailer while the vehicle is in operation,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Ryan Chaffee of the Northeast Region/Fond du Lac Post.  “Two safety chains of proper length and strength must be attached between the vehicle and the trailer. The slack on each length of chain must not be more than is necessary to permit proper turning.  In addition, it’s a good idea to crisscross the safety chains to create a cradle that can catch the tongue of the trailer and prevent it from striking the pavement if an unexpected disconnection occurs.”

A violation of the state law regarding properly securing trailers costs $200.50 with two demerit points added to a driver’s license.”

The State Patrol also offers some simple and practical advice for safe towingCaptain Chaffee says, “Before you begin a trip with your boat, camper or trailer, check to see if it is loaded properly and its contents are secured. A shifting load on a trailer can cause it to sway unexpectedly. Test the trailer brake lights. You also should check the axles and tires. Many trailers sit for long periods of time, and we see crashes caused by wheel bearing failure or blown tires. You should carry a spare tire because specialty tires for trailers may be hard to find when you’re far from home or it’s the middle of the night.”