Don’t lag behind on trailer regulations

Nobody likes getting taken for a ride, especially when buying second-hand kit.

So ensuring the provenance of equipment such as livestock trailers is often both sensible and, some argue, an absolute necessity.

But all too few buyers do, say dealers.

Likewise, few producers put much effort into establishing the actual mechanical condition of a used trailer before purchase, especially at auction.

At least one of these is easily rectified. Many manufacturers keep a register of ownership that can often be checked free of charge armed simply with the trailer serial number and identity of the vendor.

Discrepancies do arise, suggest manufacturers.

Failure to notify a change of keeper – just like contacting the DVLA when changing the ownership of a car, tractor or truck – is commonplace particularly with older units.

One leading UK supplier of farm trailers says it will update its register without charge where written evidence is provided linking the last notified owner to the current keeper.

If nothing else this should be a step towards improving security of ownership.

With both rural police authorities and insurers renewing calls for vigilance it is apparent that trailer theft remains a major factor in countryside crime.

When discovered, a first step for police in tracing owners is either a stolen trailer register or the manufacturer’s register.

Rules on trailer use are also expected to tighten in 2006, say dealers.

The proposed introduction of MOT tests for trailers has been aired along with fledgling proposals to see towing vehicles fitted with tachographs.

There is good cause for the former of these two proposals at least.

The condition of brake systems is a common area of fault, say traders, and many owners could be vulnerable.

For example, a typical Land Rover 90 or 110 is legally able to tow an unbraked trailer (including those when one or more wheel brake is faulty) with a maximum gross weight of 750kg.

Taking into account the unladen weight of a typical twin-axle stock trailer that leaves an allowable payload of almost nil, warn dealers.

Furthermore, transport police are already cracking down on poorly maintained trailers.

Broken lights, poor tyre condition and faulty brakes all attract fixed penalties and points.

Unsurprisingly, it’s an area where dealers would like owners, and their employees, to be more vigilant.