Johann Sigurdson, CEO of Aero-Equis Inc. started his technology presentation at the Animal Transportation Conference, held March 18-21, with a great introduction on how human beings can get so easily confused with all the information that is being pushed into our brains all the time, and especially the huge amount of misinformation in our information age.
He used a wonderful quote to make his point: "A fact that has been known for a long time and has wide geographic acceptance is usually wrong." He is using more high-tech methods to make the information that is coming in easier to access and utilize successfully.
He excoriated the horse trailer industry for only having regulations on these four basic areas:
- Brakes (or no brakes)
- Coupler strength
- Lights/reflective (color and location)
This does not
include structural testing of any of the following:
- Mainframe or floor
- Safety of the body for survivability of Impacts
- Braking efficiency and Stopping distance
- Chest/breast and butt bars
Quality of wiring is not standardized or specified--nor is there any testing or standardization for flammability and toxicity of interior furnishing, rubber matting, etc.
He said that there are no standards or consumer specifications for the minimum space requirements for all the different types and orientations of trailers, nor for the amount of headroom for a specific sized horse. The way the pull bar is attached to the mainframe, the type of materials (wood, plastic, fiberglass, steel, aluminum, etc.), the flooring, the footing used in a trailer, the emergency escapes (for humans), and numbers of windows for ventilation...none of that is determined by anyone except the manufacturer in consumer trailers.
Then he got to the point of the talk: That manufacturers are putting trailers out there based on what consumers think they want, and they don't know what is best because there has not been any research and development, crash testing, or basic gathering of crash data for any horse trailers (check back for my presentation in an upcoming blog for the first treatment of some of that data on 800 wrecks).
Interestingly, when consumers have good choices to choose between, they do well at it--they want the best and the safest. But when they are choosing, based on an example comment from one anonymous dealership, "Well, our trailers are made with fiberglass so that they disintegrate on impact and eject the horse." Are you kidding? Similar to human bodies, ejected horses do not fare well in crashes where their body, or any body parts, leave the continuity of the trailer (this is backed up by the Gimenez data). Unfortunately, there is still no definitive data to facilitate even this horrific as more than a theory!
Sigurdson's point was that the manufacturers need to be doing this research work through an independent organization, leading the changes in the industry so that consumers get better information and less misinformation. And we know that if we can measure something, we can find a way to manage it, then provide two things:
1. Change the way trailers are designed and built via a regulatory method and manufacturers that are intimately involved in the process
2. Change human behavior by providing clear and correct information to the general public and horse lovers, so that they can choose between two or three good choices, instead of two poor ones (as is the current state of affairs.)
He has developed a new app for smart phones that uses the accelerometers and high tech gadgetry in a mobile phone called "Keep Me Safe."