Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dorset ECHO

Trailer smash alerts USA safety lobbyist

THIS week's Dorset Echo story about a trailer full of cows toppling over near Dorchester drew a response from the other side of the Atlantic.

The rogue cattle box came away from a Land Rover and overturned on the A352 at Winterbourne Abbas, leaving the four Friesians trapped and the road blocked.

The story struck a chord with a trailer safety activist in America.

Ron Melancon, who has been tracking trailer-related crashes across the globe for nearly five years, felt compelled to contact the Dorset Echo from his home in Glen Allen, Virginia, in the USA to share his carefully compiled tales of trailer woe.

Ron was driving home from the library in his van with his son back in May 2003 when he crashed into a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck in front of him.

He says he didn't pick up just how close he was because the trailer was so low-slung and see-through.

Instead of simply accepting a ticket for hitting the empty trailer Ron fought the fine and began a campaign fighting for safety improvements to trailers.

Since then he has been keeping track of trailer-related accidents across the USA, United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.

Ron picked up on the A352 incident on the Dorset Echo website and got in touch straight away via email.

Ron's Dangerous Trailers website features his manifesto, news articles on his campaign and a gallery of offending trailers.

More chillingly it also offers a list of people killed in trailer smashes.

Ron also maintains an Internet blog called Dangerous Trailers in the United Kingdom, which he uses to collate news reports of trailer accidents this side of the Atlantic.

He has taken his fight to the Congress of the United States in an effort to get the Virginia law regarding vehicle trailers changed.

Ron, who also tracks incidents involving floats in parades and carnivals, believes more rigorous oversight and education is urgently needed.

"I don't think people intentionally want to hurt other people," he said.

"But how many people need to pass away before something is done?"

No motorists - or cows - were hurt in the crash on the A352, a busy and sometimes dangerous stretch of road, but firefighters and farm workers had to cut the animals free.

* Ron Melancon's website can be found at

You can read the United Kingdom blog at http://dangeroustrailersin

10:04am Friday 21st December 2007

By Ian McDonald