One would think that there was a weekend push, pull or drag sale on trailers. I once checked three of them on a Friday evening and found one that was too heavy for a surge brake, one that had no brakes functioning and a third that needed brakes but was not equipped with them.
The trailer without functional brakes was being towed by a class one driver, and the other two by drivers who likely didn’t know any better. Electric trailer brake systems can be complicated to set up and are often misadjusted. Hydraulic surge brakes don’t require anything of the driver except testing and maintenance.
It was clear that none of these drivers had done a pre-trip inspection of their trailer before they left the driveway.
A hydraulic surge brake cannot be used where the total weight of the trailer and it’s load is more than 2,800 kg. When it is this heavy, the driver must have a means of applying the trailer brakes separately from the tow vehicle brakes from where the driver is seated in the cab.
A combination electric and hydraulic brake is most commonly used on boat trailers for this purpose.
The class one driver was clearly negligent. The breakaway brake activation lever and cable was missing entirely from his trailer. A quick look inside the master cylinder on the surge brake revealed that there was no fluid inside it. This trailer should never have left the yard.
The third trailer weighed just under 1,400 kg and the driver towing it said that he had been told by the business that sold it to him that it was not heavy enough to require brakes. The net weight (shown on his vehicle registration document) of the vehicle he had chosen to tow the trailer with was just over 1,800 kg. This means that the trailer and load cannot weigh more than half of that figure or 900 kg. if it is to operate without brakes.
All three drivers had no clear idea how much their trailer weighed. The only sure way to know this is to go to a scale and have it weighed. Once that is accomplished, it is time to consider brake requirements.
For the simplest cases, if the total weight of the trailer and load is under 1,400 kg but more than 50% of the net weight of the towing vehicle, brakes are required. If it weighs 1,400 kg or more, brakes are required. If it weighs more than 2,800 kg a surge brake cannot be used and a different braking system is required.
Lastly, a word about breakaway brakes. These are required on trailers that weigh 1,400 kg or more when loaded. They are designed to stop the trailer and hold it stopped for a minimum of 15 minutes should it accidentally disconnect from the tow vehicle. Don’t attach the lanyard for activating the brake to the hitch assembly or safety chains! Attach it somewhere else on the tow vehicle so that if the hitch fails the brake will still activate.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.
VANCOUVER _ A newly approved pilot project will allow electric kick scooters to legally cruise the streets and bike paths of six British Columbia municipalities.
The Ministry of Transportation says in a statement the pilot project gives the province and the selected local governments a chance to assess the safety of electronic personal transportation.
The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act doesn’t allow transportation such as electric scooters on roads or sidewalks, but a 2019 amendment permits communities to work with the province on pilot projects.
The six participating municipalities where e-scooters will soon be legal are Kelowna, Vernon, Vancouver, West Vancouver and North Vancouver city and district.
Once those governments pass bylaws saying where the devices can be used, e-scooters will be treated like e-bikes, where a driver’s licence or insurance won’t be needed but riders must be at least 16, wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road.
Dates for the passage of local bylaws haven’t been set, but Mayor Kennedy Stewart says Vancouver aims to begin a trial of privately owned devices like e-scooters later this year.
VANCOUVER _ Police say cryptocurrency scams cost victims in the Vancouver-area about $2 million in just one week and investigators believe the frauds are becoming more common.
Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin says she knows of at least four active cases where large amounts of money have been lost.
She says a single victim was defrauded of more than $500,000 in a separate case last year when suspects pretending to be Service Canada representatives convinced them their Social Insurance Number had been compromised.
Visintin says police believe the number of scams is growing and the total is under-reported, perhaps because victims feel shame or are afraid to ask for help.
Police say victims are typically lured in with promises that they will be a part of an opportunity to make money or convinced they will be doing a friend or a romantic interest a favour by purchasing cryptocurrency for them.
Because cryptocurrency frauds increasingly involve investment or romance scams, Visintin says family members should share details with their relatives to ensure everyone is informed.
“Another unfortunate trend we are noticing is that victims tend to be of East Asian descent,” Visintin told a news conference Friday.
There’s no hard evidence about why members of the community are being targeted, Visintin said. Not all victims are from that community, but she said language barriers or fear of authorities may play a part.
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency, like Bitcoin, that is essentially an online version of cash.
Frauds using cryptocurrency are challenging to investigate, said Visintin, because suspects are often based outside Canada and mask their identity through sophisticated, protected online connections, making it difficult to locate and identify them.
VICTORIA _ The minister responsible for British Columbia’s public auto insurance agency says a “criminal” cyberattack will delay COVID-19 rebate cheques that were supposed to be in the mail this week.
Mike Farnworth says the Insurance Corporation of B.C. discovered last weekend the private Ontario company it hired to print and distribute the rebate cheques was the victim of a cybersecurity breach.
He says no personal customer information other than names and addresses was obtained in the breach.
Farnworth said last month the rebates to policyholders will range from $25 to $400 after ICBC saved about $600 million last year due to low accident claims during the pandemic.
The Insurance corporation says in a statement that the cyberattack did not affect its own systems, which are secure.
The corporation says it has contacted B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner about the breach.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021.