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A Trailer Boating Accident and Avoidance

What are the trailering regulations in your state?

April 3, 2019
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A Trailer Boating Accident and Avoidance
A close call teaches this boater that going beyond the legal requirements can result in a safer boat-towing experience. Tim Bower

Safety has always been a factor in everything I try to do. In May 2018, while trailering my 18-foot boat as I returned home at night from a fishing trip, a car with dim lights approached my towed trailer from behind. My boat’s trailer lights were functioning correctly, but my black Mercury outboard engine protruded beyond the trailer. This is typical for just about any boat powered by an outboard motor. No doubt the driver saw my trailer lights but may not have observed my extended engine. The resulting accident caused no personal injury — this time — but it did create property damage and a big inconvenience.

After this incident, I decided to try to prevent this problem from occurring again. I now have a red reflector strip taped to my engine’s midsection. This reflective tape can be purchased at any auto-parts store or truck stop — look for tape with Department of Transportation (DOT) approval. I also placed a red cloth streamer on my engine trailer’s transom-saver securing rope. The rope secures the engine, preventing the prop from turning while trailering, and warns oncoming traffic of my extended engine during daylight hours.

Nick Neuberger
Galt, California

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A Trailer Boating Accident and Avoidance
Davis Instruments Prop Sox Randy Vance

We applaud Mr. Neuberger’s initiative in enhancing safety for himself and for those with whom he shares the road. The issue of a boat, motor or drive extending beyond the trailer is a quagmire of overlapping state, local and federal laws. The DOT requires a red flag, reflectors and red lights for loads that overhang the rear of a vehicle by more than 4 feet. For any boat, though, consider using Davis Instruments’ bright, reflective Prop Sox. $10.99; westmarine.com —Ed.

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