A 48-year-old Rancho Cucamonga man died after a trailer being towed by a truck on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway in Baldwin Park came loose and resulted in a four-vehicle crash. Gil Tae Kim reportedly died on the scene of head injuries he suffered in the crash, according to a news article on NBC News’ Web site.
Michael D. Brown, 45, of Long Beach was the person towing the runaway trailer in a Ford-350 truck. The trailer then suddenly detached itself from the truck, bounced over the center divider wall onto the southbound lanes of the 605, according to a California Highway Patrol accident report. A tire from the trailer apparently struck the windshield of Kim’s 2007 Toyota Camry on the driver’s side.
The impact of the tire crashing on his windshield reportedly caused Kim to lose control of his car, which slid to the center divided wall and came to a stop on a grassy patch on the side of the freeway. Two other drivers, who were also injured, were only treated for mild to moderate injuries.
This is yet another example of how runaway trailers can cause devastating crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. This happens way more often than any of us realize. Although the government does not supply numbers about runaway trailer crashes, the Los Angeles Times recently reported that there were about 540 runaway trailer accidents between 2000 and 2007. These accidents reportedly resulted in hundreds of injuries and at least 164 deaths. Who knows how many incidents were not reported by news sources or didn’t find their way to court records?
A majority of people who get injured or killed in these crashes are reportedly motorists, but passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians have also been seriously hurt and killed. Some of these accidents occur because negligent truck drivers don’t take the time to make sure the trailers are secured properly. In other cases, the use of old or outdated trailer equipment can cause it to come loose or a trailer towing vehicle may be traveling at too high speeds.
Most of these accidents may have been prevented if those who use these trailers get proper instruction about how to use and hook up the trailer when they buy or rent one. Employers who use these trailers must also train their drivers on the proper way to attach these to their vehicles. There is, however, no rule in any of the 50 states that mandates a person towing a small-to-medium trailer to have any special training or instruction. Such a law would no doubt help save hundreds of life each year.