‘Driving Poorly Near a Horse Trailer Makes You a Jerk,’ Part 3: What Can We Do?

“I do my best not to crush you. Please show my horses and me the same respect.” Mel Harms-Grossman shares tales and tips for sharing the road.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we covered some of the potentially devastating consequences of unsafe driving near horse trailers. But how can we help promote responsible driving around our precious cargo? What would you or I want all the other drivers to know about this issue?

What All Drivers Should Know
Many of the following items are covered in Drivers Education Class. However, I do believe that safety items are forgotten as soon as the test is passed and the license issued.

1. Give large vehicles and trailers some room.

Pretend the entire rig has a deadly disease if you must. Allow for space in front of and behind the rig for adequate stopping. The Drivers Education book reads 2 vehicle lengths of spacing is the minimum. Also, live animals are hauled in a trailer. If you proclaim to be an animal lover, please assure animal safety by giving them space while in traffic.

2. If you cut off a truck and trailer in traffic, you might get run over.

This may not be preventable, as most trailers weigh several thousand pounds empty. Now add a truck and several thousand pounds of horses. It’s pretty tough to completely stop that weight from moving in a short distance.

3. You can’t push the truck and trailer, so don’t try.

There are two options here. The first is to pass the truck and trailer when space is available, the second is to back off my tail of the rig. Allow the truck and trailer to move over when space is available. When one rides the bumper of a trailer, they endanger both themselves and the cargo of the trailer. In this case, the cargo is the horse, which is right behind that back door. If you think hitting a deer has major effects on a car, think about what a horse will do to your precious tuna can! Not to mention, what will running up the back side of a trailer do to the horse(s)?

4. Stay in your own lane.

It is very difficult to drive near a vehicle that is unable to drive in the center of their lane. Most of us that drive a trailer drive near the “off” edge so there is adequate space for the width of the trailer. If in the center lane, we stay in the center of that lane for the same reason. Catching the side of a trailer with your car will not end well for anyone involved.

5. Pick a speed and stick to it.

To the best of your ability, set a speed. When towing a trailer, not much is harder on a vehicle than on-again off-again speeds. It is tough on the engine, transmission, brakes, the balancing horse(s) and the driver who has to continually adjust spacing.

6. When merging, those already on the major road have the right of way.

The driver entering the traffic IS RESPONSIBLE to look out for those already on the road. If entering a major highway, those on the road already have the right of way. Go behind the truck and trailer. All vehicles are supposed to move over to allow a merge if we are able; however, we are often not able to do so due to size. So many times, cars in the fast lane will not allow space so we can switch lanes to let another car in. Many times, trucks with trailers are oversized for the space available and simply can’t move over.


Kindness works in any forum. Paying attention, letting drivers hauling cargo into traffic, leaving following space, passing us quickly and helping us switch lanes are always welcome. We will also repay that safety and kindness whenever possible. The nicest thing we can do for anyone on the road is to do our best to drive attentively with safety and with kindness!

Final Thoughts

The roadways are shared by many. Those diving larger tow vehicles with a trailer need your consideration to keep themselves and their cargo safe. By the same token, you need our consideration in order not to get squashed. Please practice safe driving to support humans and animals in transit.

For over 10 years, Melissa (Mel) Harms-Grossman has successfully trained horses for show at halter, reining, barrels, poles, ranch reining, trail, western pleasure and more recently ranch horse pleasure and western dressage. She enjoys starting colts, providing continuing education for started horses, finishing show horses & working to build confidence in trail horses. One of her most proud accomplishments is helping clients attain show goals of exhibiting at AQHA and FQHR World Shows. Mel trains horses at her own SunRunner Ranch in Buffalo, Minnesota.

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