USRider Urges Horse Owners to Invest in GPS Unit for Traveling
On your way to a horse show, your truck breaks down. You know that you are on a main road, but you are not exactly sure where. You did not pay attention to the signs at the last town you passed. How do you give directions so help can find you?
"We highly recommend purchasing a GPS [Global Positioning System] tracking device to use when traveling in unfamiliar areas, as these devices have seen significant price reductions recently," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider. "This would be a great benefit to USRider and other motor plans when trying to locate members to provide service."
When someone is unsure about his or her location, it dramatically affects the response time for service providers. Additionally, from a safety and security standpoint, one wants to take every step possible to minimize the time they spend on the side of the highway - especially if they are trailering their horses.
"We have had members who have been as much as 75 miles away from where they thought they were when they called for assistance. The miles click by pretty quickly on major highways, and on a long trip it is difficult to keep up with exactly where you are," added Cole. "We service our members in the continental United States, Canada and Alaska. We tell our members if they can tell us where they are, we can get help to them - but sometimes that is a challenge."
Having a GPS unit on board makes it much easier for travelers to give their location and get help sent their way. Most GPS units have a "locate" feature that provides a driver's location, highway, city, state and, most importantly, latitude and longitude. Given these coordinates, USRider can simply plug these into a map and provide a pinpoint location for the service provider, explained Cole.
With more competition, the prices for portable GPS units have dropped in recent years. When they first went on the market a few years ago, prices exceeded $1200. Now a reliable GPS unit can be purchased for under $200.
While a GPS unit is extremely helpful, there are some precautions to be taken. Most units come with an interior windshield mount. Travelers need to make sure that they place the unit in an area that it will not obstruct their vision. It is also important not to let the device become a distraction while driving.
"When entering information and making adjustments on the unit, we recommend that drivers wait until they are at a complete stop," said Cole. "In other words, don't cause an accident while using the GPS unit."
Aside from making it easier to pinpoint your location, a GPS unit also helps drivers save fuel. A GPS unit can provide the shortest route to a destination. Also, some units can be programmed with a series of destinations (called multi-destination routing) and determine the most efficient route to those destinations.
USRider has a few recommendations for purchasing a GPS unit:
"We especially like the units that 'talk' to you," said Cole. "These models convert text into speech to announce street names and instructions such as turns. This lets you keep your focus on the road, rather than having to concentrate on reading the unit."
Cole also recommends buying a unit that has a built-in antenna. He cautions that if you have a unit with an external antenna, the wires could get in the driver's way.
It's also important to buy a unit with pre-loaded North American maps. Some models require downloading maps for different areas of the country.
With an annual fee comparable to that of other roadside assistance programs, USRider offers the typical flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lock-out services, plus benefits designed with horse owners in mind, including towing and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary referrals and more.
For more information about USRider and additional safety tips, visit the USRider website at www.usrider.org or call 1-800-844-1409.