Know Before You Tow: The Danger of Trailers and How to Properly Hitch Them to Your Car

Hundreds of people die every year in crashes involving trailers.

A heart-stopping video shows a camper swaying back and forth along a busy New Jersey highway before crossing four lanes of traffic and flipping over.

The dramatic cell phone footage was captured on the Garden State Parkway by another motorist on Monday. Incredibly, the driver hauling the camper escaped unharmed. He said the incident was caused by a blown tire.

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The video is just one of many that show how dangerous it can be when trailers and campers are attached to a vehicle.

Each year, hundreds of American motorists lose their lives in crashes involving trailers or campers.

One victim, Jeremy Cox, was driving on a Minnesota highway in 2010 when a trailer came loose and careened into his car, killing him and his 3-year-old daughter, Isabel. Miraculously, his infant son Liam survived.

“Every piece of my life was gone the day that they died,” Jeremy’s wife, Kristie Cox, told Inside Edition. “I miss them every single day.”

Surveillance footage later revealed that the trailer hitch was connected with just one chain, whereas two are supposed to be used. The trailer was also missing a safety pin.

“If they would have hooked that up correctly that day… then right now as I sit here… then Liam would still have his dad and his sister," Kristie said.

Car expert Lauren Fix told Inside Edition that many people just don’t know how to properly hitch a trailer. She showed how the pin should be used correctly.

“This little 25 cent part goes through this hole,” she said, while showing the Inside Edition cameras how it works. “This is the protection that keeps this latch from popping up when you hit a bump."

She added: “You have to have two chains. It's really critical, and the key is you cross them to cradle the hitch in case it comes undone.”

On a closed course at the Lancaster National Speedway in Buffalo, N.Y., Inside Edition tested what happens if the trailer is not properly hitched. After the safety latch was left undone and the chains were removed, it only took a slight bump to unhitch the trailer.

On a second try, when a professional driver pulled the trailer into a high-speed turn to show what might happen on a highway, the trailer came unhitched and smashed straight into a wall.

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In 2015, Inside Edition Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero joined the California Highway Patrol to see how many drivers are hauling trailers improperly.

Problems appeared almost immediately, including a trailer with just one chain. The driver received a ticket and told Inside Edition she’d learned about the need for a second chain.

It’s a lesson Kristie Cox hopes everyone learns.

“I hope more than anything that through this story people will learn how to attach their trailers and drive them safely, that they'll be educated,” she said, “and that if they see anyone who's not doing it, that they'll stop them, take a minute to tell them what they're doing wrong, because it could save someone's life.”

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