MINISTER PLEDGES TO LOOK AT SAFETY TESTS FOR TRAILERS
BY ALY WALSH
09:30 - 24 January 2008
A Transport minister has pledged to investigate whether new regulations on trailers should be brought in following the death of a four-year-old Derbyshire boy.
Finlay Martin was killed last July when he was hit by a trailer that broke free from a car while he was walking with his mother in the village of Heage.
The trailer's brakes were later found to be defective and a cable, which should have activated the brakes when the trailer became detached from the vehicle, was missing.
This week in the House of Commons, Amber Valley MP Judy Mallaber put a request to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Jim Fitzpatrick, on behalf of Finlay's grandparents and her constituents.
She asked him to investigate introducing an annual mandatory test of road worthiness and an MOT for trailers that are pulled by road vehicles.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Introducing MOT-style tests for such trailers is a possibility that we have considered before, and it is a matter that we keep under review.
"There have been several such accidents in recent months, and I will certainly consider the matter with officials in the department."
A petition started last August by Heage and Ambergate ward councillor Juliette Blake which calls for roadworthiness checks, similar to car MOTs, to be made compulsory for all trailers, has been signed by more than 600 people.
It also demands that trailers be registered to the vehicle that is towing them.
Mrs Blake was delighted about Mr Fitzpatrick's pledge.
She said: "This is a lot more positive than responses I have had previously and it sounds like a step in the right direction."
News of the investigation comes as figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that in 2006, 308 people were seriously injured and 52 people killed on UK roads in accidents involving trailers.
Mrs Blake had used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the Department of Transport for figures on the number of deaths and serious injuries involving trailers -, including caravans - on UK roads.
The figures also showed that in 2002, 56 people were killed and 406 were seriously injured; in 2003, 80 were killed and 371 seriously injured and in 2004, 54 were killed and 330 were seriously injured. In 2005, 47 people were killed and 345 seriously injured.
Mrs Blake said: "I'm amazed at the number of serious injuries and deaths a year, yet this and previous governments have totally neglected to do anything about it. People will continue to die until they do and I won't ever give up fighting for this."
Mrs Blake said she hoped some comfort could go to Finlay's family as a result of the campaign.
To sign the petition online, visit http://petitions.pm.gov . uk/Trailers/