Force is equal to mass times acceleration. This is why motorists keep their distance from the car ahead when driving. The farther apart they are, the more time they will have to hit the brakes in the event that the driver ahead unexpectedly hits his own.
However, a News.com.au article dated April 29, 2013 discusses a different case for an Australian family of four, who were towing their boat with their car. After losing control of their vehicle, their boat did a jack-knife and wrecked the rear and roof of their family sedan; fortunately, the only casualty in the accident was the car itself. A follow-up investigation showed a tow bar that was unfit to tow the four-ton boat.
“The tow bar buckled from the boat’s weight and forced the vehicle to crash into the embankment.
The boat trailer jack-knifed, throwing the boat on to the roof of the car. Its impact crushed the rear of the Commodore down to its roof line.”
Experts reiterate the importance of having good brakes on trailers. While similar incidents would be relatively rare in any part of the world- including the US- the harrowing story simply shows the implications of not having the right trailer parts for the job.
Electric brake systems help reduce the likelihood of a boat jack-knifing through the rear of the car. They hit the brakes around the same time the driver hits the car’s brakes, allowing the two vehicles to stop simultaneously. Integrated electric brakes are commonplace in pickup trucks 2005 and onwards, notably in Ford and Dodge.
Without brakes on the trailer, the load is free to move anywhere it wishes unless something acts upon it. This exemplifies the Law of Inertia, popularly known as Newton’s First Law of Motion. In terms of towing, that something will be the tow vehicle. As mentioned in the story earlier, this is clearly a recipe for disaster.
Good electric trailer brakes exert its own force to counteract the force generated by stopping. Fifth-wheel trailers often use this system due to their weight. However, boat trailers can also put this system to use, especially for larger, heavier vessels. Coupled with safe driving practices, supplementary brakes from dealers like Champion Trailers can be a lifesaver on the road.
(Article information from “Family’s amazing escape as boat crashes onto car,” The Daily Telegraph [c/o News.com.au], April 29, 2013)