The Trailer Emergency Mat is an isolated system to brake trailers when the tow vehicle has problems, particularly in downhill situations or during an attempt of an emergency stop that might cause the trailer to jack-knife. The Trailer Emergency Mat can be applied to all types of trailers from light duty consumer trailers to heavy commercial trailers.
The Trailer Emergency Mat is a mat made of cable, chain, and rubber that is stored rolled up under the chassis of the trailer. In the event of an emergency, the mat automatically deploys. The mat stretches from the spool to beyond the last tire of the trailer. The two included illustrations are very rough overviews of the mat drum mounted on a box truck between the pin and the forward most bogie adjustment point. The drum mounting location, size, and fixturing would need to be adjusted for each application. Large commercial trailers would need robust mounting along with frame reinforcement. Light duty trailers would need much less robust mounting and possibly no frame reinforcement. The mat instantly creates drag at an even rate across the width of the trailer, forcing it to remain straight with the direction of travel. The mat also greatly increases the ground contact, thus reducing the stopping distance by an order of magnitude. If the emergency happens in a mountainous region, the reduced stopping distance could mean the driver could use the entrance to an emergency stopping pit, but never touch the gravel, sand, or whichever fill is used to slow runaway trucks. Without touching the pit, there could be no need to call out a wrecker to be pulled from the pit plus the local authorities that maintain the pit would not need to repair the pit.
For light duty trailers, the most common problem is improper weight loading which causes what's commonly known as the "death wobble." A deployed Trailer Emergency Mat would immediately stop the "death wobble" and prevent the towing vehicle from rolling over. Over 20,000 people a year are treated for injuries caused by a rollover from a "death wobble" in a light duty trailer with 400 people dying every year. Over 4,000 people a year die from a commercial truck jackknifing. 68 percent of those are people in passenger cars and 14 percent being pedestrians that the trailer or the tractor hits. Insurance settlements in accidents like these cost insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for each death. Being able to equip a trailer with a device to reduce the number of deaths would be very financially lucrative to trucking companies.
Once the emergency situation has cleared, the towing driver simply backs the trailer off the mat, rolls it back up into its drum, and continues if safe. The mat would be reusable, but with a limited number of uses. The mat itself would be replaceable with the fixturing being a permanent item.