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Equestrians Can Be Stranded Due to New Vehicle Key Technology


With advancing technology, life continues to become a bit easier. For example, we no longer have to walk across the room to change channels on the television. We can cook a meal in a matter of seconds with the microwave. We stay in touch with our friends, loved ones and business colleagues with the ever-handy cell phone. And we can open or lock our car doors by simply pushing a button on a key, thanks to wireless technology.

However, all this gadgetry occasionally has some unexpected consequences that can create quite a hassle. USRider would like to warn its members about is the potential of being locked out of a vehicle. This can happen when two very common technological conveniences get too close--your cell phone can scramble the electronics in your key fob.

Being stranded unexpectedly is a great inconvenience at best. It can be downright dangerous if you are locked out or if your vehicle is left inoperable in an undesirable area. These situations are particularly hazardous when traveling with horses.

"The side of the road is a dangerous place to be especially when you have horses onboard. As a conscientious horse owner, you want to minimize that time," said Mark Cole, managing member of USRider, a roadside assistance plan designed with horse owners in mind.

Instances of cell phones scrambling electronic keys have already been reported with the 2007 Nissan Altima and Infinity G35. It's likely that other automobile manufacturers will encounter this glitch as well. In many cases, if a fob is erased, there is no way to repair it. The motorist will have to purchase an entirely new factory key fob, which can cost several hundred dollars, and have the vehicle towed to the dealer to be re-programmed to start--unless the spare key is readily available.

The electronic device in keys was developed to minimize the possibility of vehicle theft due to tampering with the starter lock mechanism. However, if your ignition fob is scrambled, you could be stuck. You could always use the spare fob, but that will most likely be left at home, far away from where your vehicle is. When the electronics in your key fob are scrambled, the key can still be used to unlock the door and turn the ignition; however, the vehicle will not start--nor will the wireless features of the key work, such as locking the door, popping the trunk, etc.

Additionally, it is advisable to handle these new high-tech keys with care, as they can also become inoperable when dropped.

"The potential to become locked out of a vehicle obviously creates a safety and security issue for our members," said Cole, "not to mention a huge and expensive inconvenience."

To help avoid being locked out of your vehicle, it is suggested that you keep the fob and your cell phone at least one inch apart. This is particularly important for those who keep their keys and phones together in a purse, briefcase, backpack, etc.

For more information about USRider and more equine trailer safety tips, visit the USRider Web site at