Horse Haulers Urged to Follow Commercial Driver Texting Ban

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Jan. 26 issued a nationwide ban on texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses.

"We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

USRider, a national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians, applauded the ban.

Mark Cole, managing member for USRider, urged horse owners to voluntarily comply with this ban while transporting horses. The combined weight of a loaded horse trailer and tow vehicle can approach that of commercial vehicles, and they should be treated as such. With the increased weight, these vehicles have a much longer stopping distance than passenger cars and light trucks.

"From our trailer accident study, we found that distracted driving was one of the primary reasons for trailer incidents," Cole said. "The solution is very simple and low-tech--keep your mind and your eyes on the road, and pull over if you need to text or make a call.

"Trailering horses is no different than any other aspect of being a good steward toward your animals. It a huge responsibility and should be taken very seriously," said Cole.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration research showed that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.

Because of the safety risks associated with texting, 19 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam already prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Another 10 states restrict texting by novice drivers. The national ban is the result of the Department's interpretation of standing rules.

Visit the USRider Web site for more equine trailer safety tips.

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