On a regular basis it is easy to find information on how to properly haul your horse and check your rig for general road worthiness, but rarely is the topic discussed in more depth than the absolute basics.
Did you know that most trailer accidents are caused from being rear ended by other drivers?
Do you know that lack of trailer visibility is a leading cause of all multi-vehicle trailer accidents?
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Awareness Level- Technical Large Animal Emergency Response Course offered by TLEAR.org, the Texas State Horse Council, and Texas A&M Engineering Extension Office. In this course we learned the ins and outs of large animal rescue from trailer accidents to just about every other rescue situation imaginable. I highly recommend that every horse lover consider signing up for this class when offered in your area (or in a reasonable distance) you will walk away with a whole new appreciation for the worse case scenario.
But back to this blog post here are a few of the major road safety tips I took away from the 2 day course.
1. Every horse/livestock trailer should have more reflective tape than a fire truck. Especially on the back of the trailer and tape on both on the top and bottom of the trailer for better overall visibility in hilly regions. Even a white or silver trailer can be invisible (until it is too late) to other drivers especially at night.
2. It is not the wear on the tires but the age of them that can cause them to blow out and cause accidents. Learn learn how to check the date of your tires. Even new tires from the shop can be older (so check the date before install). Most trailer tires should be replaced (even if not worn) every 6-7 years.
3. Every trailer should have at least two (or the average number of people in rig) reflective construction vests that should immediately be put on by everyone outside of the vehicle in the case you are forced to work roadside. Reflective leg and tail wraps for the horses are also recommended.
4. When hauling a few horses it is safest to haul your horses over the axles, if in a two horse straight load and only hauling one horse the horse should be placed on the driver's side.
5. Since most multi vehicle trailer accidents are caused by rear ending the animal placed in the last stall is the most likely to incur serious injury. When you have the option consider leaving the last stall empty. For example you have a 4 horse trailer but are only hauling two, put your horses in spaces 2-3 instead of 3-4 even if it means having to shovel the poo from farther up the trailer.
6. In some states/and counties the fire department (usually first to respond) is not allowed to enter your glove compartment to look for information on your animals in case you are severely injured and unable to provide information. For best results In Case of Emergency Information should be in your trailer itself. Consider placing ICE in here stickers and a resealable vinyl pouch Velcro-ed to the inside of your escape and back trailer doors.
7. In this pouch you should have a letter to responders, a limited power of attorney authorizing someone (usually not in the truck with you) to make sound medical judgments for your animals in case you are unable to do so, in addition to a copy of your coggins and registration papers of horses you normally haul. Also consider placing a medical limit (for reasonable veterinary care) written on on coggins or papers for each animal. Without this information emergency responders and the on scene veterinarian will be unable to act in your horse's behave and provide much needed euthanasia if you are in the hospital unable to provide consent and or you may be subject to $$$$$$ in veterinary bills you are unable to pay (and a animal with a poor long term life outcome) which you would have not consented if available to respond.
8. Consider placing a simple trailer description in this emergency packet to aid in safe animal extraction. Note managers, gates (number and which side they normally swing from),any special features such as propane, water tanks (black water), and gas and even a simple hand drawn diagram. Many first responders are not experienced with trailer configurations and this information can be extremely helpful for all parties involved.
Hopefully you will never have to face a trailer accident situation but following the above tips can greatly aid in a positive outcome for both you and your beloved horses.
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