Horse Trailer Drivers: Signal for Safety

Every vehicle is outfitted with a variety of devices to help drivers navigate safely during their travels. These devices include the basics such as steering wheel, headlights, gas and brake pedals, seat belts, air bags, and so on. Also included, although often overlooked, is the turn signal, or "blinker."

The purpose of a turn signal is to let drivers tell others of their intentions to change lanes or turn to minimize hazardous surprises and help prevent accidents.

Although the turn signal lever is conveniently located within mere inches of the steering wheel, countless drivers fail to use it. While it is rarely enforced, use of turn signals is required by law in most jurisdictions. For example, in the state of New York, drivers are required to use turn signals continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

However, many drivers incorrectly treat the use of turn signals as a voluntary act that is left to the discretion of the vehicle operator. This is unfortunate for other drivers on the road.

"We believe a leading contributing cause of turn signal non-use is in-vehicle distractions, such as talking on the telephone," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider, a national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians. "From our trailer accident study, we found that distracted driving was one of the primary reasons for trailer incidents. Driving is an activity that demands close attention."

Appropriate turn-signal use is important for alerting other drivers of your turn, when changing lanes, and when merging onto a freeway, to avoid collisions.

"Observing safe driving practices is important for everyone. Proper use of turn signals should be observed in any vehicle, however, it is critically important when trailering your horse," Cole said.

USRider offers these safety tips for using turn signals:

  • Make sure all signals are in good working order. Have a friend check your lights from time to time. Do not pull your horse trailer if the turn signals are not working properly.
  • Turn your signals on before you make a turn or maneuver, not during the turn or maneuver.
  • Get into the habit of using turn signals all the time, not just when other drivers are present.
  • Be an aware driver and be sure to turn signals off when you have completed your turn or maneuver.

More information about USRider and more equine trailer safety tips.

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