States are beginning to address a highway safety issue that previously had little visibility: motorists killed in accidents involving passenger vehicles towing trailers.
An average of more than one person a day dies in such crashes, according to federal data. The collisions often occur when poorly secured trailers break loose and careen into traffic — a problem resonating as the Fourth of July holiday signals arrival of peak moving and recreational boating seasons, according to USA Today.
A Virginia law that took effect last week requires that any vehicle towing another vehicle or trailer have a trailer hitch or similar device strong enough for the weight of the vehicle or trailer being towed.
At least four other states — Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana and Tennessee — considered similar measures this year, and legislators expect to revisit the issue next year. Also, a Wisconsin state senator says he will introduce legislation next year.
“We’ve heard some really, really awful stories from here and from other states,” says Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Hansen, a Democrat from Green Bay.
Hansen says he was spurred to action by the April 20 death of Whitney Radder, a 19-year-old University of Wisconsin-Green Bay student who was killed when a trailer came loose from a pickup and crashed into her car on U.S. 41 in Howard.
Her death was one of hundreds tracked each year across the U.S. by Virginia traffic safety activist Ron Melancon, the driving force behind Virginia’s new law. Melancon, 46, founder of www.dangeroustrailers.org, has campaigned for stricter laws and inspections of towed trailers since 2003.
“Our best course to prevent these needless injuries or deaths is through education, enforcement and vehicle design engineering to minimize the human error factor,” Melancon says.
Regulations on passenger vehicles towing trailers vary widely from state to state. From 1975 through 2008, 15,211 people were killed in crashes involving passenger vehicles towing trailers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“We are committed to safety,” says Pam O’Toole, executive director of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, whose 750 member companies make about 75% of trailers sold in the U.S.
The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) elected a new association presidents and presented several awards during its 22nd Annual Convention and Trade Show in Reno, Nev., in early March.
The NATM elected Mike Skoglund, Carry-On Trailers Inc. as association president. Skoglunds’s term as president began March 2010 and continues through February 2011, according to a news release.
Skoglund is vice president of new product development for Carry-On Trailer Inc. Carry-On Trailer Inc. has been an NATM member since 2000. Skoglund has served on numerous committees including the membership and compliance committees. He has attended ANTM board visits to the Hill in Washington, D.C. for the past three years and has worked hard to relate NATM messages to senior support legislative members to achieve NATM goals.
Skoglund has worked in the trailer industry for almost 20 years and his experience within the industry includes retail and wholesale sales, DOT fleet transportation manager, logistics and loading, marketing, research and development and OSHA accident investigation.
The NATM also presented several awards:
- Andy Gehman, MGS Inc., Denver, Pa., received the NATM Outstanding Member Award, presented each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to the trailer manufacturing industry. Gehman was elected to the NATM board in 2003 and has served in all of the officer positions and on numerous committees. He currently serves as the chairman of the government affairs committee and as a member of the governance committee. He was instrumental in launching a successful government affairs program including overseeing the selection process of NATM’s current government affairs firm, K&L Gates. Gehman participated in the strategic planning process in 2005 and 2008, and was involved with the planning, writing and implementation of the current NATM strategic plan. One of the goals from the 2008 strategic plan was to develop a governance plan for NATM. He has been an active participant on the governance committee which is in the process of completing the governance policy for the association. During his tenure as NATM President, Gehman worked on a quality management program for NATM. This led to the formal adoption of numerous policies and procedures for the association, along with a document control process. He continues to actively participate on numerous committees and special projects.
- Jim Garnett, Hoschton, Ga., received the NATM Outstanding Service Award. The original purpose for forming an association was to aid in obtaining product liability insurance, which was presenting a challenge for many trailer manufacturers. On April 19, 1990, Garnett spoke to NATM members about product liability insurance at the Third Annual NATM Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., with 10 manufacturers and 12 exhibitors in attendance. At that meeting, the board of directors appointed a standards committee and voted to endorse Interstate Insurance Services to provide product liability insurance to its members. Garnett continued to provide insurance services to NATM members until he retired in 2009. During his years with NATM, Garnett recruited countless members to NATM, receiving the Membership Award in 2002. He required all of the manufacturers that he insured to participate in the NATM Compliance Program, helping to build the program that today has over 70% of its members participating. Interstate Insurance has been a long-time sponsor of the NATM convention, as well as sponsoring board meetings and a variety of events for NATM members.
- Carlisle Tire & Wheel Co.received the NATM Associate Member Award, presented each year to a company who has shown outstanding support of NATM. Carlisle Tire & Wheel has been an NATM member since 1997, with as many as 13 branch memberships. They have been long-time sponsors, exhibitors, advertisers and overall supporters of NATM. Their representative, Rick Coffey, has received the membership award twice for recruiting the most new members to NATM in a year. He has served on the board of directors for the past five years chairing the convention and marketing committees. When the board of directors voted to add an associate board member to the executive committee, Carlisle Tire & Wheel supported the decision to add Coffey to this position, thus ensuring that the needs of associate members are being heard and considered. Coffey made numerous trips to evaluate potential sites for NATM conventions and has played an integral part in planning successful conventions and trade shows for NATM.
The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) has launched the Green Manufacturing Award.
The award will recognize the best innovation or novel solutions by a manufacturer in the trailer industry to positively impact the environment, according to a news release. This could be defined in many areas including material utilization, design advancement, process or equipment improvements, reduction in emissions, recyclable, etc.
NATM generally focuses on the commercial, cargo and equestrian trailer business as well as some RV manufacturers.
The NATM has partnered with PPG Industries Inc., which has pledged to be a founding sponsor. Their initial financial support reflects PPG’s commitment to improving the environment. Other sponsors are welcome to join the effort. The trailer manufacturing industry has many opportunities to support “Green” initiatives and in our current political environment, there are many opportunities for government support as well as tax incentives.
NATM formally announced its Green Manufacturing Award during the 2010 Annual Convention and Trade Show in Reno, Nev., in March. The application for the Green Manufacturing Award is available on the NATM website. The first award will be presented at the 2011 NATM Annual Convention & Trade Show to recognize “Green” improvements during the 2010 calendar year.
Criteria for the award include being an NATM trailer manufacturing member in good standing and providing verifiable documentation of a “Green” initiative or improvement at their manufacturing plant. NATM trailer manufacturing companies will be judged on case studies where the companies have been able to demonstrate improved performance in environmental manufacturing. This may include maximizing energy efficiency levels, compliance with environmental regulations and minimizing waste from the production process. Manufacturers should be able to illustrate success in reducing their environmental impact, as well as converting green manufacturing into a business opportunity.
NATM was founded in 1987 and represents manufacturers that produce light‐ and medium‐duty trailers. NATM members also include suppliers to the industry. Organized to promote, both to the trailer industry and to the public, universal recognition of safety and quality in trailer manufacturing, NATM works to improve the trailer industry through the promotion of compliance with its Guidelines and other initiatives such as The Green Manufacturing Award. The association currently has more than 800 member companies across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and other foreign countries.
Some 1,500 people representing trailer dealers, manufacturers and suppliers are expected to attend the 2nd Annual North American Trailer Dealers Association (NATDA) Trade Show and Convention Sept. 12-14 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky.
“We also expect to have quite a bit of walk-through traffic,” said Amy Rubenstein, NATDA co-founder and vice president.
Rubenstein reported that more than 300 dealers, 46 trailer manufacturers and 115 suppliers have registered for the show. Dealers of any stripe — automobile, RV, boat and the like — are invited to peruse the show for free, although only those who are registered can attend NATDA’s nearly two dozen educational seminars.
Rubenstein and President Andy Ackerman founded the for-profit NATDA in March 2007. The organization represents commercial trailer retailers and earlier this year became an affiliate of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM), largely comprised of cargo trailer builders.
NATDA membership is open to dealers who sell light-and medium-duty trailers with GVWRs of less than 26,000 pounds. About 1.25 million units were sold last year at an average price of about $30,000, Rubenstein said.
With the theme “Back to Basics Bootcamp,” NATDA will present more than 20 educational workshops over three days on subjects that include retail and wholesale financing, federal regulatory compliance, operating profitable parts departments, managing service department operations and selling in a stressed economy.
“Trailer dealers haven’t had any (formal industry) education prior to the association starting,” Rubenstein said. “We want to give them additional knowledge about what is out there, and for a lot of dealers, this is the first time they’re seeing potential products face-to-face.”
As with its RV-industry cousin, the trailer industry has faced financing issues during the past year. One related upshot is the fact that a company that promoting “buy-here, pay-here” retail financing will introduce a program for trailer dealers during the trade show.
“That will give dealers something to think about as the economy recovers,” she said. “I think the program will be very popular. Like everyone else, we want to stimulate the economy and get some sales going in our industry.”