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Expert talks life-saving trailer hitch safety in Jacksonville's Florida-Georgia RV City

6:06 PM, Nov 1, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A lot of people are in town for the Florida-Georgia game. Many people have trailers hitched to the back of their trucks or RVs, which brings up a safety issue that is getting a lot of attention around the country.

The dangers of a hitch not properly attached are very real.

Mark Fleischer is co-owner of AllPro Trailers and is an expert in trailer safety.

He watched a story aired in May by FCN's Minnesota sister station, where a trailer broke free, killing two people in one family.

Fleischer and FCN went out to RV City where we found Rick Sharp who was parking his trailer. Fleischer said the only issue was the chains.

"You always want to attach it to the vehicle, from the bottom to the top in a cross form," Fleischer said. "So that the trailer ever were to come off, the chains will actually catch the front of the trailer."

RELATED: Trailer safety segment sends Jacksonville man into action

"Typically, I always hook the chains up," Sharp said. "Just moving a short distance, I didn't feel the need ... I mean I didn't go over 5 miles an hour."

In 2011, a 51-year-old Fruit Cove woman died in Julington Creek after a trailer became detached from a teen's truck and crushed her as it passed by.

On Your Side, Mark has a checklist:

1. Check bearings.

2. Check the wheels.

3. Check the latch.

4. Have a lock going through the coupler latch.

A snap pin for that costs 50 cents. A hitch pin about $3 and a proper ball $10-$20.

"I've been riding down the road and I've seen trailers off in the ditches in the woods," Sharp said. "So, you've definitely got to know what you're doing and make sure it's done right. I appreciate him coming out," he said, talking about Fleischer.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, a violation of state towing requirements could be a moving violation of $164.

READ STATE STATUTE INFORMATION ON TRAILER SAFETY FROM JSO

FCN saw another example of a hitch that didn't look like it should. The chains appeared to be worn and the latch appeared to have broken tabs.

On Your Side, Fleischer also recommends having two full-size safety chains that have no obvious signs of wear and tear. He said new chains cost from $10-$15.

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