Originally Posted by fourstar
There is a compelling argument for not installing the breakaway device here.
All that said, I went ahead and installed mine anyway. There is always the possibility that you will be inspected in some locale and your rig may be sidelined because you don't have it. Also, I understand that you won't be allowed to cross into Canada without one.
Short answer, I strongly encourage WITH a breakaway device. I too read that argument against and did not find it compelling at all ...in fact, I didn't buy much of it as reasonably informed -- too many assumptions that just don't ring true for me.
First the above mention of Canada ...where it is required it likely won't be checked until an accident investigation. I crossed the Canadian border several times in different areas just last summer and no one mentioned/asked about it. Only once do I recall the border guard walking to the rear of the rig and back and he didn't dally.
When a toad/trailer breaks loose w/o brakes it will continue until it hits something or runs out of momentum. I want it to stop reasonably quickly. Breakaway brakes will NOT stop the toad faster than following vehicles can react ...it will NOT lock up the wheels. The toad is not likely to stay in the lane with or without brakes, and once it is stopped it is just as much a hazard to other vehicles if it stopped without brakes as with, and the quicker it stools the more chance others, especially oncoming traffic, has to avoid it. Again, I want a runaway to stop fairly quickly.
I have run a Breakmaster w/breakaway for 10 years and apx 80k miles on two toads. It has worked great, and yes the breakaway does come with a monitor light on the dash so you know when the toad brakes are applied.
I lost a trailer (combine header) in my younger years. The hitch snapped in two just behind the ball. The trailed swayed twice before the (obviously inadequate) chains broke. The trailer followed me down the road a short distance then eased to the right and down an embankment where it impaled a berm, went into the air and came down on the right side. Had it eased to the left rather than the right it could have impaled an oncoming vehicle.
Do toads break loose? They absolutely do! Why?
1 - baseplate comes off the toad. Guess where the safety cables are attached on the toad? Some on this forum have reported this happening to them. When I removed a baseplate from an 8 yr toad I found 1 of 3 bolts on both sides broken. This is why Blue Ox (and likely other nfg'ers too) now provide little cables with the baseplate installation kit to try to tie the baseplate to the car framework). When I did the pre-inspection on our Alaska caravan vehicles last June I found one relatively new baseplate that was very loose. Grab your baseplate and jerk it up and down several times a year to ensure it is not coming loose.
2- hitch comes off the RV due to loose/broken bolts or broken welds. Every time you drag the hitch on the asphalt it is severely tested/abused ...it needs to be inspected at least annually. Guess where the safety cables are normally attached on the RV end? ...yep, to the hitch!
3 - the tow bar breaks somewhere on attachment points, joints, and/or arms. I have seen pics of that on this forum also. On a very rough Canada highway last summer, members of our group were passed by a Class C towing a Jeep that was getting slammed up and down at each frost heave, severely abusing hitch, tow bar, etc. Several miles down the road the Jeep was off the road in the woods after the tow bar broke. I don't know why the safety cables didn't do their job, but they obviously didn't.
My breakaway cable is attached to a frame attachment a bit forward of the hitch. As long as the cable is long enough, I see no way that makes unwanted activation of the breakaway any more likely than it it were attached to the hitch.
I believe EVERY RV toad needs breakaway brakes for the safety of our fellow travelers, and it may also save your toad from being severely damaged if/when it gets loose. Getting it stopped relatively quickly allows for the best possible resolution to a bad situation.