Boat Trailer Safety & Responsibility – Accidents, Insurance and Trailer Maintenance

boat-trailer-on-beach“I don’t want to spend any money on it.”           

“But I just paid to have my boat serviced”

“I don’t care if it fails rego – I’ve got a mate who will pass it”

“Ï don’t need brakes – my car will pull it up – I cut the brakes off because they weren’t working”

“But I only travel around the corner to the boat ramp.”

We hear it all the time and it’s alarming how many boat owners do not care about the safety and legal responsibility of their trailer. If you own a boat and trailer – no matter how small or large, it will cost you money every year to register it, service it and keep it in a roadworthy condition.

We regularly see trailers that have had their brakes removed by the owner rather than fixing them; underrated trailers; trailers with cancerous rust causing parts of the trailer to crumble away; missing lights and imported boat trailers that have been registered illegally. The reality is that if you have an accident your insurance company will find any reason not to pay your claim – including any damage to your car and boat as well as your trailer (and anyone else’s vehicles if you are at fault). The onus is completely on the boat trailer owner and tower. Whether you knowingly or unknowingly tow a trailer on the road in a condition deemed unroadworthy or the accident damage is due to lack of maintaining your boat trailer you will be responsible for the repair bill or police fines.

Boat trailers are classed as vehicles – they come under the same laws as cars and caravans – meaning that they all need to be roadworthy to be used on Australian roads.  While you may not think a boat trailer is heavy (a 5m boat trailer can easily weigh 400kg), when you combine it with the weight of your boat, the motor, fuel and everything else you have packed in it – you are towing a dangerous object at fast speeds.

Legally, if you are not servicing and maintaining your boat trailer yourself it must be serviced and repaired by a licenced repairer – usually a motor mechanic. Contrary to popular belief, marine mechanics can only legally perform a small number of trailer repairs.

Cheap import Chinese and eBay parts are also flooding the trailer market causing boat trailer owners many headaches. These parts are inferior to quality brands and while they may seem cheap at the time of buying them they often fail quickly once being used and many times do not fit well on the trailer causing more problems and a larger repair bill down the track.

So please be realistic with your boat trailer. Boating is not a cheap activity and while a trailer is not the most expensive part of the “package” it will still cost a fair amount of money over its lifespan to maintain it in a safe and roadworthy condition. An easy way to remember to maintain your trailer is to get it serviced every year when your rego is due. This way any problems found will usually be small costing you less money and stopping a larger more expensive problem from occurring down the track. Please look after your trailer – not only does it carry your pride and joy, but it will also help keep you and your family safe on the road.