A Cautionary Tale About an Almost-Accident While Hauling

On Saturday morning I was less than five minutes from the barn, Connor in the trailer behind me, headed out for the haul to the clinic facility.  I was in the right lane of a 4 lane + center turn lane state highway that runs through my town.  We were in a commercial area (Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, etc), but it was early and there wasn't a ton of traffic.

My husband still asks me when the other half of my horse trailer is being delivered.

I was leaving a safe following distance doing about 30mph in a 35 when a newer F-150 pulled out in front of me.  There was no reason for that, there was a huge gap of maybe 1/2 mile clear behind me.

That by itself was manageable, but almost immediately after that, a Honda Accord in front of the F-150 made a right turn either without signaling or with a very late signal. The F-150 responded by slamming on his brakes, and because I still hadn't had enough time to increase my following distance by enough after he pulled out in front of me, I had to slam on mine too.  I heard Connor slam into the divider as I came to a stop maybe an inch or two from the F-150's bumper.

Connor was fine, he didn't go down, I pulled off the road to check on him almost immediately, but I'm sure it wasn't fun for him. 

Divider latched open (upper left) for cleaning.


The whole thing was scary, stupid and avoidable if people just had more situational awareness.  I had almost two hours of driving to think about it after that, and I kept coming back to the following three things:

- I generally hate left lane drivers, but on that state highway, it's much safer for the truck and trailer to be in the left lane, which has a turn lane.  The right lane does not, and people suck at using turn signals.

- If we had gotten into an accident, the F-150 wouldn't have been the at-fault driver, even though he would have been 100% responsible for the whole thing by pulling out in front of me.

- If I had had my old trailer behind me, which weighed 1,400lbs more, we would have gotten into an accident.  I had just enough time to stop the 2,100lb Shadow, anything more and we would have been in the F-150's tailgate.


That last one in particular...I have a 2005 GMC Sierra 1500, Denali edition, totally loaded with every option possible, including towing options.  It's rated to pull 7,000lbs.  My old trailer was a 2H straight load BP with tack room, steel frame aluminum skin, weighing 3,500lbs empty and ~5,000lbs loaded. 

Actually, this is my old trailer, at the show last weekend!  The new owners are in love with it.  It's the mom and her 9 y/o daughter's first trailer, and they're enjoying the freedom.

On paper, that was absolutely more than enough truck for the trailer.  I could move it, I could stop it, I had no issues driving it in normal traffic, besides having to plan ahead to stop gracefully at stoplights.  But I definitely would not have had enough truck, weight-wise, to stop it quickly in an emergency situation like I experienced last weekend. 

New trailer (foreground), old trailer (background)

With the Shadow, I can brake almost normally like there isn't a trailer behind me, because the truck is heavy enough in relation to the trailer to help the brakes out quite a bit.  And that's the only thing that kept me and Connor from being in an accident last weekend.


So that was scary, but it could have ended up being way more scary.  Definitely keep emergency situations in mind when you size your next truck and trailer purchase!

20 comments:

  1. Scary! A similar thing happened to me a few years ago. A Jeep pulled out in front of me and before I could increase the space between us he slammed on his brakes at a yellow light. I actually pulled into the turn lane to avoid hitting him (there were 2 cars on the road… me and that damn Jeep) and gave him the finger. Seriously I wish they had more education about trailer driving with the people that will never drive a truck and trailer bc they think we can stop the same as them. But glad everyone was safe!!! And yes totally agree about picking out hauling vehicles… the stopping is just as important (if not more) than the pulling power!

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    1. Wow, very similar and yes, scary! I totally agree, I do think stopping (and stability, for a BP) is actually more important than the pulling power, and it's so often overlooked.

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  2. Driving a trailer is so terrifying considering the number of idiot drivers on the road. I'm so glad both you and Connor were okay!

    My mom insists on hauling her 2-horse BP with her Jeep Cherokee and it makes me INSANE because it is so clearly not big enough, even though she only ever hauls one horse. (But the Jeep website says it is, so clearly that's all that matters 🙄).

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    1. Yeah, NO, totally agree with you, Jeep Cherokees are not big enough. A girl I went to college with hauled her 18.1hh show jumper from Florida to Indiana OVER THE MOUNTAINS in a Brenderup behind a Jeep Grand Cherokee. She never did it again that I know of so I assume that was a white-knuckle trip.

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    2. She had one of my horses with her at her place for a bit and I refused to let her haul him anywhere, and she got so mad about it. Sorry, my horse isn't gonna get hurt in a trailer wreck because you're in denial about your tow vehicle!

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    3. A girl at my old barn hauled with a Toyota Tacoma. The road to the barn had a slight hill with a railroad crossing at the top. There was a stop sign at the crossing, not the arms and signals. She couldn’t stop at the crossing when hauling because her truck didn’t have the power to start again on the hill, so she had to inch along and pray there wasn’t a train coming. And she never seemed to care or think that maybe she needed a bigger truck.

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    4. Wow! That's so scary to me. To be fair, I pay closer attention to this than most people, probably. The number of pull-behind RVs I've seen fishtailing along behind too-small trucks and vans is terrifying.

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  3. I really do think people should be forced to learn to drive a truck and trailer just so they can be better drivers around them.

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    1. Yes! I completely agree. It wasn't even discussed in my drivers' ed, let alone taught.

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  4. I've got the beefed up Tahoe with a tow capacity of 8000 lbs, but I wish I had a bigger truck when pulling two horses. With just Gav it's totally fine, both pulling and stopping - but with two horses it feels too heavy.
    I've yet to experience someone cutting me off, but it's incredible how many people tail the trailer so closely that I can barely see them in the mirrors.

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    1. I feel ya, I had a firm "never haul two horses" policy when I had the KB for just that reason. Which is part of the reason I bought the 1H slant - why was I hauling an extra stall around that I would never use unless I upgraded to a 3/4 ton truck, which I also didn't want to do?

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  5. Scary!! Driving around with a truck and trailer is scary. Mostly because of all of the variables from the other people on the road. So many people don't realize how much room we need to stop!! Glad you guys stayed safe!

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  6. I won't be buying a truck or trailer anytime soon, but THIS is exactly what makes me nervous. People laugh when I say I want a BIG ASS TRUCK to haul a 2-horse trailer, but seriously. I'm not worried about going forward, I'm worried about stopping.

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  7. I pull with a Honda Ridgeline but had the suspension beefed up the tow package AND the brake system put in. And I go slow as the dickens in it and mostly just pull Remus. And people pull out in front of me all the time. Not only do I have my lights on and my fog lights whenever i drive my trailer is white, my truck is sparkly blue (I call it Edward from Twilight). PEOPLE STOP IT. I so far have had time to stop but again i go slow as shit.

    Mark (Hubby) Had someone pull out in front of him on a highway and slam to a halt and he ran into her (In his car not the truck) was totally the woman's fault but Mark got the ticket. UGH.

    Hate people. I am glad you and Connor are okay. That is very scary.

    I also hate how everyone loves to pass me in my truck and trailer and whip in front of me to turn right. Um....dude....can't you wait thirty seconds? GRHHH

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  8. AARGGHH. I HATE drivers that have ZERO situational awareness like that! Poor Connor. So glad it wasn't any worse.

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  9. I have to laugh about everyone wanting bigger trucks, because in Europe people haul with their SUVs (or even a diesel car... Mercedes wagons are a fav) all the time... two horses too! But of course they are using the light Brenderup style trailers. (Full disclosure: I haul a 2 horse BP with an F350 diesel. Whatevs)

    One thing someone long ago told me is that you should ALWAYS have an escape route planned. I have pulled over curbs, into the grass, into the center lane, you name it, to avoid a collision. If one shoulder is closed due to road construction, i move to the other lane so i can jump into the shoulder or median if i have to. I absolutely HATE when both shoulders are closed, but i just go super slow and leave a ton of following room and hope for the best.

    And lastly: non-rig drivers are jerks, period. Big rigs are the NICEST folks out there when you're hauling.

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    1. I was going to mention Brenderups in Europe too. :D

      I pull a two horse Brenderup with my Toyota Tacoma - the tow package is rated up to 6800 lbs. The trailer (2100 lbs) plus (fatty) horse and gear might make 4000 lbs. In worst case scenarios it's best to have the power to weight ratio in your favor - no doubt about that.

      My horse mentor said the same thing re escape routes. People can kiss my a$$ if they don't like me in the left lane - I'm going to ride wherever it's safest for my precious cargo. ;D

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  10. I'm so glad you were able to stop in time!! This is why trailer brakes are so very important. If your trailer has them, but your vehicle isn't equipped with a controller for the trailer brakes, you should definitely have it installed. That way the trailer is stopping the trailer and you don't have to rely on your truck's transmission to stop both the truck and trailer.

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    1. Oh yes, I'm equipped properly with trailer brakes in both the truck and trailer, and the trailer can stop the truck if I need it to. My old one was that way as well. Wouldn't dream of towing without it.

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  11. That's so scary, I'm sorry. I 10000% agree on all of your points, though. I prefer to haul with a 3/4 ton for that reason, especially since my old trailer was an all-steel job. I was rated to tow up 12,000lbs and a fully loaded trailer was around 7,000. And I was obsessive about adjusting the electric brakes to fully compensate for the trailer, too, so there was not even the slightest hint of the trailer pushing the truck.

    I once had to SLAM on the brakes when a pedestrian walked out directly in front of my truck while going through a busy downtown. I was already crawling along because of the nature of the road, but this guy simply wandered out into the road without checking, without a crosswalk. I still get queasy remembering it. I literally stood on the brakes, bracing my arms around the steering wheel, begging the rig to stop, and it was a near thing. People just have absolutely no idea how hard it is to slow those things down, even when you're doing absolutely everything right.

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