Trailer Problems? Blame Dealer

November 2006 News

Dealers do not make the boat trailers they sell to their customers. But they could be held responsible if that customer gets into an accident with the trailer, a speaker said last week during the Marine Retailers Association of America convention.


"The dealer is involved 95 percent of the time because they were the last ones to talk to the customer," said Mark Leonard from the National Trailer Manufacturers Association.


Leonard was one of the featured speakers in a panel discussion on risk management at this week's annual MRAA convention in Las Vegas. Leonard has several years' experience investigating and reconstructing trailer accidents.


His presentation covered the main allegations or causes of trailer accidents; regulations, standards and testing; trailer certification from the National Marine Manufacturers Association; and warnings and instructions. The latter issue is where dealers must take some responsibility, he said.


He advised dealers to have a checklist of instructions for the customer and make sure employees cover it every time. Customers should know how to hook up the trailer and its lights, what to do when they lose a hook and know abut proper braking distance. The most common causes of trailer accidents involve trailer brakes, trailer sway/stability, and inappropriate towing ratios, Leonard said.


The National Marine Manufacturers Association also plays a role in ensuring consumer safety, Leonard said. NMMA certifies boat trailer designs to make sure manufacturers comply with established industry practices, state and federal regulations. The association uses either its staff or independent inspection agencies to check compliance.


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