Use caution when driving, or following, livestock trailers

Michigan State University Extension

 Recently, a tragic mid-Michigan automobile accident resulted in the loss of the best Christmas present a little girl could ever receive: her horse. Unfortunately, this accident was allegedly caused by an incident of road rage. When an impatient driver frustrated, with the slow speed of the truck and horse trailer, cut the truck off sharply. The driver of the trailer was forced to brake suddenly; the horse scrambled, lost its footing and ultimately had to be euthanized.
This terrible incident serves as a sad reminder during the busy summer travel season. Many drivers do not realize how challenging it is to drive a truck hauling horses or other livestock, or even large motor-homes and other recreational vehicles. When involving a horse or livestock trailer however, both human and animal lives can be lost.
When following horse or livestock trailers on the expressway, it is important to remember that the combined weight of the truck, trailer, horses and equipment make it extremely difficult to stop quickly, or even slow down substantially. Further, a livestock producer is always thinking about the health and safety of their animals while driving, resulting in driving slightly slower than posted speeds and leaveing a great deal of stopping distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. When passing trucks hauling trailers, please leave much more space between you and the truck you are passing than you would with a car, before pulling back into the lane.
Although an impatient driver caused this particular incident, there are several other issues that may result in horse trailer accidents. Regular trailer maintenance is a key part of owning and hauling animals, using an appropriate-sized vehicle to haul the trailer and making certain that those responsible for driving have experience driving such rigs (without animals) prior to setting out. To learn how to deal with horse trailer safety in an emergency situation, view this article on trailer safety.
Again, none of the previous information can change the loss of this little girl or what happened to her horse, but it serves as a reminder to people with or without horses, or other animals, to use the utmost care when traveling.


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