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State Police: Too early to tell if a trailer inspection would have saved a life

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: State Police: Too early to tell if a trailer inspection would have saved a life
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Police say there is no evidence the trailer had been inspected, and they'll have to wait on their accident reconstruction unit's report to see if that would have made a difference. Meanwhile, the driver will be ticketed for having an unregistered trailer. That's why officials are reminding everyone that the DMV requires all trailers be registered and inspected on an annual basis. As our Katie Gibas reports, experts say this accident highlights the need for a change in the way that's all done.

With the sun shining and warm weather starting to creep in, boaters are eager to get out on the water. While most people take their watercraft in to get inspected and tuned up, there's one very important thing they often overlook: the trailer.

"Even to say in your own mind, 'I'm only going a short distance,' that can be extremely dangerous for both the person that's trailering the boat but obviously for other people that are traveling on that road," said Dave White, a NY Sea Grant Recreation Specialist.

That danger played out in a deadly way Thursday, on Interstate 690 in Van Buren. Police say a tire came off of a boat trailer, traveled across the median, and hit 33-year-old Jennifer Miles' car, killing her instantly. That trailer wasn't registered and there's no evidence it was inspected.

"To my knowledge, I'd list it as a rare thing. You don't often hear about it. Obviously if a tire comes off, there was a problem with the hub itself or the actually bolts, the tire being connected to the trailer that may or may not have been checked," said White.

Toby Klish, JK Automotive Manager, who inspects trailers added, "It's something that does happen. We've seen it down here several times. Trailers come in with bad bearings, lack of grease in them. That's more of a maintenance thing than an inspection thing." He continue, "Could an inspection have prevented something? possibly, but without knowing, it's hard to say."

Regardless, experts say beside being the law to have trailers registered and inspected every year, it's also important for safety in the long run.

"There's a lot of things that we look for that the average person wouldn't even think of checking like springs or suspension parts," said Klish.

Experts say the accident highlights flaws in the system. First, you don't have to prove inspection to register a trailer. Second, inspection stickers for most boat and personal water craft trailers don't have to be put on the trailer, as long as they're kept in the towing vehicle.

"I think they should put the sticker on the trailer. With heavy trailers, like the 18 wheelers, the sticker goes right on the trailer. With these light duty trailers, I personally don't know why they don't, but they don't. They should be. It would be a lot easier to see what trailer is inspected and what's not," said Klish.

In addition to the annual inspection, experts remind people that because of the wear and tear of launching a boat, it's important to scan your trailer before every use.

Trailers can be inspected at any official State of New York Motor Vehicle Inspection Station.

DMV Trailer Requirements

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