Ron Melancon, Dangeroustrailers.org
“Loss of Lives from Trailer Accidents are Preventable”

One man has almost single-handedly alerted America to the surprisingly major problem
of utility trailer accidents -- the amount of injury, death and property damage caused
when they become uncoupled from towing vehicles, and the dire need for stricter trailer
safety laws. His name is Ron Melancon and since 2003 he has chronicled his determined
campaign for all to see on www.dangeroustrailers.org.

Ron was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in New York State’s Catskill Mountain
region. For most of his adult life, he enjoyed a successful career selling men’s clothing
for large department stores. It was after being moved by the events of 9-11 that he
entered into the world of advocacy and activism for the first time, campaigning for a new
Virginia license plate memorializing the tragedy.

“I learned a valuable lesson in how our government works,” says Melancon. “I was able
to work with my local government representative to get an idea started and completed.”
Next he led the successful effort to get a specialty license plate created for Mothers
Against Drunk Drivers. Once again he was able to get something done with the help of
his state General Assembly delegate John S. Reid.

Then, out for a drive one day in May 2003, Ron’s destiny was shaped when he received a
traffic ticket for rear-ending an empty, steel-mesh trailer. He thought the ticket unjust and
complained vehemently. The trailer was so low-slung and the mesh back of the empty
trailer so transparent that he looked right through it and saw only the truck towing it.
People advised him, “Pay your fine and move on,” but he didn’t move on.

He undertook many hours of research about trailers, and uncovered a few disconcerting facts:
• They are not required to be inspected.
• Trailers less than 3,000 pounds fall below Federal guidelines. Only those over
3,000 pounds require that reflectors be placed at the "extreme rear of the trailer."
Armed with these facts and others, Ron went back to his delegate John Reid. Reid agreed
to sponsor a bill requiring trailers in Virginia of all kinds to have reflective tape or
reflectors, providing the necessary depth perception. Ron campaigned vigorously in the
community, and with additional help from State Senator John Watkins, HB 429 passed
the general Assembly without a dissenting vote. VA's then Governor Warner (now U.S.
Senator) signed the bill into law in April 2004.
“You’d think that would be the end of it, but several large trailer companies then lobbied
for an amendment to the new law, to water down the safety regulation,” says Melancon.
“So I began keeping a record of all of the accidents involving defective utility trailers at a
website I named www.dangeroustrailers.org.” The overwhelming evidence he compiled
doomed any attempt to relax safety standards.

Ron Melancon, Dangeroustrailers.org
“Loss of Lives from Trailer Accidents are Preventable”

In his research, he began to realize that inadequate reflectors are only part of the problem.
Even more injuries and deaths are caused by shoddy safety connections and/or safety
chains between the trailer and the car or truck. Unfortunately the most common accident
occurrence involves innocent victims, when a trailer detaching from a vehicle becomes a
missile directed towards an on-coming vehicle. The results are devastating. Ron started
anew to urge Virginia legislators to require that a suitable strength safety chain or similar
reliable device always accompany a trailer being pulled by a car or truck, even if the
trailer weighs less than 3,000 pounds.

Working together with State Senator Watkins, who was persuaded to sponsor a new
trailer safety bill, SB 646 was signed into law on April 11, 2010 by Virginia Governor
Bob McDonnell. As a result all trailers in the state of Virginia (several million are
registered) effective July1 must be provided with a locking device that prevents
accidental separation of trailer and vehicle.

Melancon has become widely known in Virginia and beyond as a public safety crusader
with a reputation for being thorough and undeterred.

Organizations are glad when his tenacity is on their side.

“The issue of trailer safety is not very complex,” Melancon says. “The solution is readily
available right now. Every loose trailer accident, every death caused by trailers that
separate while driving, is preventable right now.”

Ron and his wife Dawn live in Glen Allen, VA. They have two children, Zachary and Megan.

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