Local inventor, advocate says state needs to mandate safer trailer hitches

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 10:23pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 4:21pm

A local man created a device that could prevent thousands of crashes involving runaway trailers. But he says he is fighting for more than the profitability of his invention.

James Milazzo built his Safe Tow hitch because he did not trust the chains he used to tow his boat trailer.

"I had no confidence in chains, and every time I would pull my boat trailer, I just never felt comfortable," he said.

"I didn't want to kill someone with my trailer coming loose, so I decided to look at making something to take the place of the chains."

His Safe Tow hitch is solid metal, making it sturdier than chains, and requires only a fresh coat of paint to maintain.

Soon after he built his first model, word got out and he began making them for friends and other people concerned about their vehicles.

In the process, he learned more about the dangers of trailers and became a safety advocate.

"These little C-links and S-hooks, they tell you don't use them in any application where safety is a factor," Milazzo said of the hooks people often use to connect their trailers.

He believes trailer safety is a bigger issue than the public considers it to be. He said that runaway trailers have killed more than 90 Louisiana residents since he invented his hitch in 2001.

"There's 400-500 deaths a year by runaway trailers (nationwide)," he claimed, "with 60,000 crashes and 15,000-20,000 injuries per year."

He makes his hitches by hand in a small workshop, but does not have the money to turn his device into a business. Nor, he said, does he want to. Instead, he would prefer to license his product to the state of Louisiana.

"I have offered this, to put them on state vehicles, through the prison enterprise system," Milazzo said, "trying to give it to taxpayers' trailers, put them on taxpayers' trailers for peanuts on the dollar."

Milazzo went to the state legislature in 2010 with the goal of passing a law to require a solid hitch, such as his, on all state-owned vehicles. The House passed his bill, but the Senate chose not to vote.

"They tabled it because they didn't have quite a grasp of what it entailed," he said. "So they wanted to table it and do a study on it, which I think they still studying it now in 2013."

He believes legislators and state officials are afraid to adopt his Safe Tow because of the higher initial cost. Milazzo said prices currently run from $60-200. But since his fixed costs are high, particularly for liability insurance, the cost would drop substantially if they were produced on a larger scale.

"But yet," argues Milazzo, "the peace of mind that it'd give you when you're pulling your trailer, and besides that, the prevention of loss of life, you can't put a dollar figure on that."

Milazzo said he will continue to promote his Safe Tow and try to make devices like it mandatory, because he does not want to see another needless death caused by a runaway trailer.

"You got to have some feelings in you to be able to see a 10-year-old child laying in a coffin," he said, "knowing that have a safety device that could've prevented that loss of life."

Other companies currently sell similar products, and Milazzo said he is considering a patent infringement lawsuit against one such competitor. But he stated that money is not his focus.

"I don't need to be a millionaire," Milazzo said. "I'm 69 years old and don't need it. What I'm wanting to do is save people's lives when I'm dead and gone."

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Also...did you know that two different people used our info to get investors to invest in safety devices that never were produced....yet Jim Millazo has all the info....and nobody wants to invest in a life saving device that will create jobs and save lives and reduce medical care

Google Karl Pratt Safety Device.....he is spending 4 years in Club Fed.

Did you know that in 15 States you can tow a crappy trailer and have no identification on it and when it comes loose and destroyes lives nobody knows who you are?
5 people have been killed this way and nobody knows who did it. The mob should know about this.

You want to see what a loose boat trailer did to Natalie....can you handle the truth? facebook...Prayers for Natalie.....https://www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Natalie/352150778181097

look at her eyes....looking at you.....she will never be the same because the cheap Safety Chain...and the NATM that advocates cheap trailers that have never been tested does this. If our Government mandates 5 MPH bumpers to protect you!!! then why not mandate SAFE TESTED HITCHES THAT PROTECT OTHERS?

Please go to www.dangeroustrailers.org and ask...would you use a untested homemade hitch? Would you put a baby into a homemade baby seat? Then why in the world does our Government use Safety Chains that have never been tested to a National Standard?
Why do they use Untested Hitch Pins? Why do the allow you to build your own hitch and trailer and put that junk on the road and when it comes loose it destroys people who are behind? Why has our Government tried to prevent us from saving lives?

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