Transport Minister meeting to follow trailer summit

MP Karin Smyth has arranged to meet Transport Minister Andrew Jones following a summit of over a dozen organisations that share a role in improving the safety of towed trailers which she arranged in Bedminster, Bristol. (Friday 17 March).

The Bristol South MP organised the summit to co-ordinate improvements, as she continues her work on behalf of constituents Donna and Scott Hussey, following the tragic death of their three year-old son Freddie in 2014.

Having arranged the summit in the heart of the Bedminster community  devastated by Freddie’s death, Karin Smyth said: “There’s huge common desire amongst those who attended to improve the safety of towed trailers in Freddie’s memory, and to prevent other families suffering as the Husseys have.

“We learned about lots of initiatives that are already being undertaken, such as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s #TowSafe4Freddie education campaign, and a number of others that are currently being considered.

“It’s clear that we need better coordination between the various schemes, which is why I was so keen to bring these organisations together to help plot the way forward.

“I will continue to work as a link between trade organisations and the government, and have arranged to meet Transport Minister Andrew Jones to feed back the outcomes of this industry summit.”

She said that if the focus is on changing driver behaviour rather than legislation, as the government wishes, a number of things need to be done:

“We must promote better guidance and education for drivers, and the TowSafe4Freddie campaign is an important part of this.

“We need to make it easier for drivers to get expert advice, and we are discussing possible schemes to enable drivers to get free trailer safety checks.

“And we need to identify drivers with the riskiest behaviours and target them to change their behaviour. Many drivers don’t understand the consequences of driving with an unsafe trailer. Although there are fines and bans, there is not much chance of someone being caught, and drivers know that. We need to make this as socially unacceptable as drink driving or using a phone whilst at the wheel.

“But I’m very clear that if these things are proven not to be working then we need to keep a change in legislation around the safety of trailers on the agenda.”

Donna and Scott Hussey attended the conference, opening proceedings with a speech outlining the family’s experiences and the importance they attach to the urgent work needed to avoid more families experiencing similar tragedies.

Attendance at the trade summit included:

Trade organisations
• The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd
Supports and promotes the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad
• National Trailer and Towing Association Ltd
‘The Voice of the UK Light Trailer and Towing Industry’
• British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
The trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector
• The National Caravan Council
The UK trade body for the tourer, motorhome, caravan holiday home and park home industries

Organisations representing people who pull trailers
• The Camping and Caravanning Club
Member organisation providing benefits to campers / caravan users
• Caravan and MotorHome Club
Club for touring caravanners, motor caravanners and trailer tenters
• British Horse Society
The UK’s largest equestrian charity; members use trailers to transport horses
• National Farmers Union
Trade union representing farmers who trail farm machinery

• Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
Government agency, reporting to Department for Transport, which ran the recent #towsafe4freddie online video and social media campaign
• Highways England
Government company with responsibility for managing England’s motorways and major roads
• Avon and Somerset Police

Local organisations
• Bailey’s Caravans
Constituency-based caravan manufacturer
• Baileys Balloons
Hot air balloon company based in North Somerset