SCHP: Unsecured trailer causes I-26 fire

Posted: Jun 17, 2013 4:21 PM EST Updated: Jun 17, 2013 4:21 PM EST

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A trailer that came unhitched from a pickup truck caused a collision that led to a fire on Interstate 26 on Monday afternoon, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Troopers say the trailer came unhooked from Robert Thomas' Chevy pickup truck Monday afternoon, hitting an SUV, then a media before careening across the interstate.

A van also traveling westbound swerved to miss the unhinged trailer, overturned and caught fire, according to Troopers. The driver of the van was able to escape without injury, officials said.

Thomas was cited with a towing violation.

Dangerous Trailers Editorial:

Editorial | Could the time be right for a trailer tax?

Published: May 30, 2013

For years, readers of this newspaper have complained about unlicensed, unregistered utility trailers using the public roads without paying their fair share. Recent talk about the need for more money to maintain the state's roads and bridges has renewed the complaints. The reasoning goes, why raise gas taxes or any other fees unless you have first taxed the trailers. Citizens see this as a glaring omission in state law and a patent unfairness in taxation, and those perceptions are warranted.

State law exempts privately owned trailers weighing under 2,500 pounds from registration unless they are being rented. That means trailers such as U-Hauls must be licensed even if they weigh under 2,500 pounds.

Attempts to change the law have failed repeatedly, and not since 2006 has it been tried again.

Opposition comes from several fronts, according to legislators who have tried to change the law. First are those who insist that farm trailers should not be registered or taxed. Some bills specifically exempted farm trailers but they still failed.

The most prevalent objection is from those who have pledged never to raise taxes or impose new ones. Many who have taken that pledge are suspicious of government and don't want any new rules.

Another objection is that registering trailers would raise so little money it is not worth the bother. Of course, no one knows for sure how many are in use because they are not registered. The one estimate we have to go on is from a legislative study in 2005 that projected income of $4 million from trailers, compared with $594.3 million collected from all vehicle fees.

Currently, trailers under 2,500 pounds that must be registered pay $10. Those over 2,500 pounds pay $20, so there isn't a lot of money involved.

Aside from the revenue-to-effort ratio, some state officials said there is no uniform way to tax or register the trailers because there are so many types and sizes.

Even so, that year, state Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach, filed a bill calling for the registration of utility trailers. It died in committee. In 2006, former Rep. Vida Miller, D-Pawleys Island, and Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach, co-sponsored a trailer registration bill. It died in committee. Three other House members filed a similar bill, which also died in committee.

Most other states have resolved these difficulties and found a way to register, if not tax, utility trailers. Missouri, for example, requires titles, registration and taxes of the trailers, and it exempts “cotton and hay trailers.'' Registration is $7.50 for one year. Not much money involved here, either: The state collected $356,596 in trailer registration fees last year.

According to the website, South Carolina is one of 11 states that does not require registration of utility trailers. The website, run by Virginia resident Ron Melancon, advocates for trailer safety.

Melancon points out that unregistered trailers have caused traffic accidents leading to deaths, and that they should be required to have lights, brake lights and turn signals. South Carolina requires only that such trailers have two reflectors in the rear.

The Anderson (S.C.) Independent reported that in 2010, a couple was killed when a detached utility trailer rolled into their car on Interstate 85. The reponsible party was never found.

Add to safety issues the problem of theft of trailers with motorcycles on them, and it is enough to make Hardwick vow to file a trailer bill again.

He told The Sun News this week that there are varied benefits to requiring trailer registration and he intends to work on a new bill over the summer and file it for consideration next year.

Readers who care about this issue can do their part by expressing support for Hardwick's effort, urging their House and Senate members to support the bill, and sharing their opinion with other legislators when the measure comes up for votes.

The revenue may be a tiny piece of the state budget, but the principle and the safety issues are compelling reasons to put this back in play.

Read more here:

Local man killed in head-on collision with detached trailer
Published Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:59 PM
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Georgetown Presbyterian Church.


GEORGETOWN, S.C. — A Georgetown man, the son of a Waccamaw Elementary School art teacher, died in a three-car crash on U.S. 521 outside Salters Friday evening.

Charles Phillip Meador, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene after his 1996 Toyota collided head-on with a trailer that had broken loose from the 1995 Toyota that had been towing it, Williamsburg County Deputy Coroner Vernal Fulton said.

The trailer, which was being towed by David Brown, 60, of Manning, crossed the center line at about 4:40 p.m., according to South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins.

A 2000 Ford Expedition driven by Kerry Singleton, 36, of Greeleyville ran into a ditch to avoid the initial collision, Collins said.

The Patrol’s Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is reconstructing the crash, Collins said.

Meanwhile, tributes to Meador and his family were posted online after the fatal crash.

Meador's mother, Leesa Meador, is the art teacher at Waccamaw Elementary School in Pawleys Island.

Friends and family said Charlie Meador will be missed. They had many memories of his childhood on the Waccamaw Neck.

Larry and Doris Cribb of Georgetown said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time."

Others remembered "Charlie" as a talented young man who portrayed Jesus during vacation Bible school.

"Leesa, Phil, Sally and Eddie, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your entire family on the loss of your dear son and brother Charlie," said another tribute. "He was an extremely talented young man, and it was an honor to have gotten to see some of those talents through the Last Supper performance and when he played Jesus for Vacation Bible School. Thank you for sharing your precious gift with us."

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service.

The family will receive friends at the Georgetown Chapel of Mayer Funeral Home Monday from 6 until 8 p.m.

Collins said any charges filed in connection with the crash would come after the conclusion of the investigation.

WBTW-TV contributed to this report


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