New trailer safety group launches in Parliament thanks to campaign by Bristol South MP and local family

Karin Smyth MP at the 2018 trailer summit in Bristol – part of an ongoing campaign

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth is pleased to be chairing the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trailer and Towing Safety in Westminster on Tuesday 30 April 2019. 

The creation of this cross-party group is a significant step forward in the campaign to improve trailer safety. As part of the meeting, The National Towing Working Group, chaired by Highways England, will be launching their first ever Safety Framework, with the aim of reducing towing-related incidents, both business and leisure related, across the GB road network. 

It follows two Trailer Safety Summits, which Karin hosted in her Bristol South constituency in 2017 and 2018, an amendment to the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act requiring the government to collect data on trailer related incidents and ongoing talks with the government’s Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman MP over further potential changes to legislation. 

Karin first spoke about the issue in Parliament in 2016 after meeting with constituents Donna and Scott Hussey – who lost their 3-year-old son Freddie when he was hit by a trailer that had come loose from a vehicle in Bedminster in 2014.  

Thanks to Karin’s work with the Hussey family, the DVSA went on to release new guidelines for towing safety and launched the #TowSafe4Freddie campaign to help raise awareness among drivers. Karin has since teamed up with the National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA) to promote free roadside safety checks for trailers, but believes more is needed to protect road users and pedestrians – which is why she has launched the new APPG. 

The APPG brings together MPs from the main political parties, industry representatives and consumer groups to explore the issue of trailer and towing safety. The group, for which the National Caravan Council (NCC) is the secretariat, will discuss a programme of work for the future and will, this summer, discuss the Department for Transport’s Trailer Safety Report, which will be published in July as a result of Karin’s intervention last year (2018). 

Karin said: “Working with the Hussey family, I’ve been able to bring this important issue to Westminster. We’ve come a long way since I first spoke about the issue in Parliament and, with the launch of the APPG, I’m pleased to see the concerns we have getting the attention they need. It paves the way for the changes needed in the area of towing safety over the coming months and years.  

“These incidents are far too common and what has become clear during this ongoing campaign is that drivers are often unaware just how dangerous towing without the correct safety measures can be. That needs to change and thanks to our ongoing campaign and work with the likes of the NCC and NTTA, it will. I don’t want to see other families suffer in the way that young Freddie’s family has.”  

Freddie’s mum Donna said: “While it has always been difficult for us to comprehend what happened to Freddie, we made a promise to each other and to Freddie that we would do all we could to make sure this issue is given the serious consideration it deserves.  

“I did not realise it was an issue before it happened, but afterwards I started to look into it and saw that there were 2-3 incidents a week. We realised then that it was a real problem. In our case, if that trailer had been serviced they would’ve known that the hitch was not secured correctly. Had the driver realised there was a problem, he might not have gone out that day. People need to know that going out without the correct safety checks, you’re taking a big risk. 

“We are really pleased that Karin has supported us and, thanks to her efforts, all parties are now working together to make the necessary changes happen and hopefully prevent similar tragedies. We couldn’t have done it without her. If our hard work saves one life, then it is worth it. No family should go through what we have been through. We are determined to see this through in memory of Freddie.”  

“We are really pleased that Karin has supported us and, thanks to her efforts, all parties are now working together to make the necessary changes happen and hopefully prevent similar tragedies. We couldn’t have done it without her. If our hard work saves one life, then it is worth it. No family should go through what we have been through. We are determined to see this through in memory of Freddie.” 

Alicia Dunne of the NCC said they were pleased to be taking a key role in this new APPG, adding: “The NCC has consistently been an advocate of trailer safety education and awareness, and we look forward to helping Karin and the group develop practical, proportionate and effective measures aimed at improving trailer and towing safety for all UK road users.” 

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