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Virginia Senate Bill 646 was recently passed in an effort to improve trailer safety while travelling on Virginia Highways and roads. In the past Virginia roads were unsafe because vehicles hauling trailers were not required to use any type of chain or cable that would make sure the trailer remained connected to a vehicle while in transit. As a result unnecessary vehicle accidents occurred resulting in severe injuries and death.

The new law now requires that all trailers have an emergency chain or cable that is capable of keeping the trailer attached to the truck or vehicle when on the road.

The new law reads as follows:

An Act to amend and reenact § 46.2-1118 of the Code of Virginia, relating to tow trucks towing vehicles by means of a wheel lift apparatus.

[S 646]

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 46.2-1118 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 46.2-1118. Connection between vehicles; tow trucks towing vehicles by means of a wheel lift apparatus.

The connection between any two vehicles, one of which is towing or drawing the other on a highway, shall consist of a fifth wheel, drawbar, trailer hitch, or other similar device not to exceed 15 feet in length from one vehicle to the other. Any such two vehicles shall, in addition to such drawbar or other similar device, be equipped at all times when so operated on the highway with an emergency chain or cable that is structurally adequate to securely stop and hold the trailer being towed.

The fifth wheel, drawbar, trailer hitch, or similar device must (i) be structurally adequate for the weight being drawn, (ii) be properly and securely mounted, (iii) provide for adequate articulation at the connection without excessive slack at that location, and (iv) be provided with a locking device that prevents accidental separation of the towed and towing vehicles. The mounting of the fifth wheel, drawbar, trailer hitch, or similar device on the towing vehicle must include reinforcement or bracing of the frame sufficient to produce strength and rigidity of the frame to prevent its undue distortion.

The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to (i) any farm tractor, as defined in § 46.2-100, when such farm tractor is towing any farm implement or farm machinery by means of a drawbar coupled with a safety hitch pin or manufacturer’s coupling device or (ii) any tow truck towing a vehicle by means of a wheel lift apparatus that employs a safety strap to hold two of the towed vehicle’s wheels within a wheel lift cradle in a manner consistent with instructions of the manufacturer of such wheel lift apparatus.

For the purposes of this section, “tow truck” means any motor vehicle that is constructed and used primarily for towing, lifting, or otherwise moving illegally parked or disabled vehicles.

According to an article at, written by Capt. Woody Gore, data collected through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over a five year period indicates there is an average in excess of 68,000 accidents each year involving passenger vehicles towing trailers. The average fatalities from these accidents surpass 440 persons per year. The average numbers of injuries from these accidents exceed 24,000 per year, with an average property damage resulting in over 43,000 per year. The bottom line is… there is no excuse for these kinds of statistics.

For more information about Virginia trucking laws, truck injury causes and victims rights, contact nationwide truck accident attorneys Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP for expert advice. For a free initial consultation, talk to a VA truck accident lawyer at 800.773.6770.

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