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USRider urges drivers to pay attention to the road

Lexington, KY (May 26, 2010) – Kentucky State Police report that the Alabama truck driver who crossed the median and caused a crash in March that killed him and 10 other people had been using his cell phone to send and receive calls leading up to the crash. This tragedy is just one example of the dangerous consequences of distracted driving.

Statistics show that driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes. Driving is an activity that demands close attention. Not only do drivers need to watch what they’re doing, but they also have to keep an eye on other drivers and road conditions.

Given the rising number of automobile accidents caused by texting, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a nationwide ban in January 2010 that prohibits texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large truck and buses.

USRider, the national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians, applauds the ban and urges horse owners to voluntarily comply with this ban while transporting horses.

“At USRider, we think no one should text while driving, and we urge horse owners to voluntarily comply with this ban, especially when trailering,” said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider.

Trailering horses is a huge responsibility and should be taken very seriously. While horse owners are not required to carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to tow a horse trailer, they are driving a vehicle that is most likely carrying weight that exceeds the weight of many commercial vehicles. With the increased weight, a tow vehicle and trailer have a much longer stopping distance than passenger cars and light trucks.

Evidence shows that even hands-free devices do not reduce the risk of an accident. The underlying problem is that the brain is distracted.

“From our recent trailer accident study, we found that distracted driving was one of the primary reasons for trailer incidents,” Cole added.

Such accidents are easily preventable. Drivers need to keep their minds and eyes on the road, and pull over if they need to text or make a call.

Driving while using a cell phone can pose a serious distraction and impair driver performance. Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds 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 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.

“In addition to the possibility of causing injury or death to their horse, horse owners who text while driving pose a risk to other motorists,” said Cole.

Through its Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider provides emergency road service to its Members in the lower 48 states as well as Alaska and Canada. Designed for those who travel with horses, USRider provides emergency roadside assistance and towing services, along with other travel-related benefits geared especially toward horse owners, such as towing up to 100 miles plus roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling and veterinary referrals.

For more information about USRider and more equine trailer safety tips, visit the USRider website at http://www.usrider.org or call (800) 844-1409.


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