Dangerous Trailers The Story

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dangerous Trailers The Begining (The Story)

Hi, my name is Ron Melancon and I want to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to review my story.

I was coming home from the library with my son on May 17, 2003. I was driving my mini van and I noticed the pickup truck. I was judging my distance by looking at the truck when at the last moment I saw the truck was pulling a trailer. What caught my attention was the fact I noticed the license plate by the stop lamp.

I just didn't pick up the fact that the trailer extends two feet from the lamp. I quickly attempted to stop but I hit the trailer. I quickly pulled over and made sure everybody was O.K., including my son. I then called the police. I kept saying to myself why didn't I pick up the trailer, then it occurred to me that the trailer has a design flaw. The trailer is a see through trailer and it has nothing on or in it to give it some depth.

We waited for the police to arrive, which they did in about 15 minutes. I conveyed what had happened to the officer and he took notes. He came back with a summons to appear in court. The damage done to my van was not extensive as noted below. My air bag did not deploy and no internal damage was done to my front end.

To the right is the damage done to my vehicle. As you can see it's not much damage it's just not pretty. I believe that most people would get the van fixed and go on, but I could not. I have gone over the accident many times and I just can't figure out how I missed seeing the trailer.

I kept going over how I could improve the

safety of these trailers by trying to figure out how to do it. The solution came the following week.

I was going to the bank on Parham Road and Fargo in Richmond, VA to pay a bill. The day was quite the same as the accident and after coming out of the bank I was behind the
SOLUTION picture below.

I just couldnt believe my luck, I quickly took this

picture before the light turned green. The question I had was normally people don't spend money unless they have to.

What compelled the owner to modify the trailer to do this?
Why did he or she place the plate at that position?
Why did he or she place reflectors on the beam?

If you notice my van is at least 5 feet away I still can't see the tail lights on both sides.

I bet that this person either got hit in the past or was trying to make the vehicle safer.


I called my insurance company to convey my findings. I told them that I believe that these trailers are unsafe and would like to get involved to find a way to make a change. They told me that they have no means or support to do what I was proposing. I conveyed that I have pictures to prove my point but to no avail, I could not convince them to help.

Against the advice from my friends I decided that I would have to do something on my own. I decided not to get my van fixed and use the money to start a campain to get something done. The climate in America is that few people want to step up to the plate because the majority of them feel that they will get the royal kick in the a__. I convinced myself that maybe this time things would be different.

The majority of Americans feel that our leaders do not lisen, well they do and I called on my local delegate Jack Reid along with Dick Glover who is my district supervisior. I got positive feedback from both of them and with their support I started to go at this situation full speed.


Below is the letter dated June 6 to John S. Reid. He allowed me to vent and after seeing my evidence decided to lend his support. Now I know my idea was going somewhere and after showing more and more people my situation I went at it full force.

During my many hours of research I discovered a few details concerning these trailers.

One- They do not get or need to be inspected.

Two- You can build one on your own and either use it or sell it.

Three-They are under 3,000 pounds and fall below federal guidelines. Over 3,000 pounds and reflectors need to be placed at the "extreme rear of the trailer"



To the left is the letter dated June 4 to Eric Cantor who is my United States Congressman. I received a reply from him which confirmed my research. It is a state level problem and not covered under the federal guidelines. With this information it just added more fire under me to get something done.





I went to court on June 6, 2003 with my case. I was prepared to plead my case with the same supporting documentation on this web site. I was worried that I would not get a chance to plead my case and I did not want to get the judge upset with me.

Judge Steverson heard my case and with the ticketing officer Fielder my case was tried. I pleaded not guilty which gave the judge and opportunity to as me why. I went into my effort and to my surprise Judge Sterverson dismissed my ticket and said I would have to go to traffic school. The ticketing officer gave no objection and before leaving I made a promise to make a difference on the record. I knew Judge Steverson thought I was like so many of us who make promises and nothing happens.


I started to buy color ink cartridges and paper in order to start my campaign. My Hewlett-Packard 712 printer did an outstanding job as it printed over 8,000 color pictures of what happened to me. I knew that in order to make people understand what happened to me I had to give them my story on paper. I went to coffee shops, hair salons, work, my child day care and just about anywhere where people gave me a chance to speak. It took my printer about 3 to 4 minutes to print each page and now its starting to show its age. Long nights and long days off were spent to achieve my goal.


I believe if you have an idea you should see it through, either positive or negative. I wanted to support him in any way I could and that is why I used my own funds to achieve our goals. Too often people tend to fade away after the initial push and expect their elected official to complete the job. I have too much respect for my delegate to do that to him. He used his precious bills introductions to give me a chance, the last thing I was going to do was drop out. I know he could have chosen other bills to introduce but instead gave me the honor. I thank him. Below is a copy of the actual bill and how it worked itself in the general assembly. The name of the bill was HB429 you may go here to see the history. By clickling below.


Senator John Watkins

Quote Richmond Times Dispatch Dated April 14, 2004 article titled A Trailer, A Ticket, A legal Triumph " Senator John Watkins R-Powhatan, lent his support to the proposal and helped defeat a suggestion that would have required as much as two years for a study of it;s impact" I believe without Senator John Watkins along with Delegate Jack Reid this bill would not have passed so quickly. I thank both of them. Below is a copy of both the legal language and process of the bill.




As the bill went through its motions I couldn't help but to remember from my childhood days the old School House Rock song. The song went like this "I'm a bill yes I'm only a bill and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill and now its off to committe" ect. The way a bill gets passed is just like that song I remember. Sorry for the flashback.

I personally e-mailed every Delegate and Senators. Like you and me they need feedback and thought. I wanted them to know I was involved. Below is a copy of such a letter and some responses back to me.

I believe that along with being a good bill and having the support of my Delegate with support help from over 6,000 ordinary people help it get a complete sweep of both the House of Delegates and Senators. How many times has 140 politicians (one abscent 139 ) agreed on a subject.



With the impending success of House Bill 429, I called on my insurance company for help. The cost was continuing to rise. I reminded them that this was going to improve public safety. The reply I got was NOTHING!!

I called 5 times and mailed this information 3 times along with 3 e-mails. Again no return call or reply received. I was heartbroken as to the fact I was not getting anywhere. I regrouped and tried one last time and I made it clear I was going to have a respectful response.

I finally got one after almost 3 months. A copy is below. Again I still can't understand the line "WE READ, WITH INTEREST, THE ARTICLE IN THE TIMES DESPATCH REGARDING YOUR EFFORTS TO HAVE THESE TRAILERS INCLUDE REFLECTORS." Please see letter from Erie Insurance below right.

Once again what don't they get? Have trailer, put on reflectors equals less accidents and more safety!!! I even suggested that they put this information into their quarterly newsletter you know the one they tell us we want you to get more involved. Well guess what I just got my summer edition, not one mention of this in it. WHY? Why does someone have to die in order for something to get done? Copies below.





I called several times to convey my story to the Metro editor. Finally Mr. Allen Cooper gave me an opportunity to tell my story. It was published on April 14, 2004. It was a very well written and positive article. It had a great headline " A Ticket, A Trailer and A Legal Triumph." Due to copy right guidelines I regret that I am unable to provide you a copy of this article. You may go here to preview the article and purchase a copy of it. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/timesdispatch/617837961.html?did=617837961&FMT=ABS&FMTS=FT&date=Apr+14%2C+2004&author=Alan+Cooper%3B+*+Contact+Alan+Cooper+at+(804)+649-6649+or+acooper%40timesdispatch.com&desc=A+TRAILER%2C+A+TICKET%2C+A+LEGAL+TRIUMPH+%3B+REAR-END+COLLISION+LED+TO+MAN%27S+CAMPAIGN+TO+GET+LAW+CHANGED

A month later the subject was again featured in the Street Beat section of Metro. It was titled getting "PREPPING YOUR TRAILER WITHOUT A HITCH" Once again due to copy right guideliines I regreat that I am unable to provide you a copy of this article. However you can click below to get one for a fee.



Below is the finial step in this one year process. My goal was achieved and my idea was qualified by the Delegates, Senators and the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. You may click below to view actual signed document.



I just don't understand, why agency's are in a postion to offer help when you try to contact them. Below are the agencys I've tried to contact either by phone, mail and e-mail. Not one, and I say it again, not one agency called or e-mailed back. What a shame!!!! How much are they paying the personell and don't even give me the respect I deserve.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

E-mail 5 times

Phone 4 times 1-888-DASH-2-DOT

Mail 1 time.

No response.

You may try to get them to reply. Please click on the blue.

web site http:// www.nhtsa.dot.gov

e-mail address webmaster@nhtsa.dot.gov

Holmes Trailers

E-mail 1 times

Phone 2 times

Mail 1 time.

No response.

You may try to get them to reply. Please click on the blue.

web site http://www.holmestrailers.com

e-mail address james@holmestrailers.com

The National Association of Trailer Manufactures

E-mail 4 times

Phone 4 times (785) 272-4433

Mail 1 time.

No response.

You may try to get them to reply. Please click on the blue.

web site http://www.natm.com

e-mail address webmaster@nhtsa.dot.gov

The National Truck Equipment Association

E-mail 3 times

Phone 2 times

Mail 1 time.

No response.

You may try to get them to reply. Please click on the blue.

web site http://www.ntea.com

e-mail address jim@ntea.com

Insurance Information Institute

E-mail 4 times

Phone 2 times

Mail 1 time.

No response.

You may try to get them to reply. Please click on the blue.

web site http://www.iii.org

e-mail address johns@iii.org


Corporate America in general complains that citizens don't get involved. Well I did and completed my ojective. I certainly could have gone to court, gotten the ticket dismissed and fixed the van and gone on my merry way. I chose not to!!!

I didn't say to myself I want to drive around town with a damaged front bumper, spend around $3,000, print flyers, use my very little spare time, take time from family and aggravate my wife for no reason. I knew this was a good cause and against my network of friends who told me not to expect anyting. I had faith.

I gave my insurance company and the trailer industry an opportunity to make me "whole" and you can guess what I got - NOTHING. This was something they should have done themselves, but in America nothing is done unless you sue. Something is wrong with this picture. Well in this case I didnt do that. Heck, we just created new demand in reflective tape.