Hayrides in Many States Face Few Regulations

Did you know? The regulation and inspection of hayrides are often left up to state or local municipalities, resulting in little to no regulation at all. Check out the article below from USA Today discussing recent hayride incidents.

USA Today
By Ryan Adair, WCSH-TV, Portland, Maine
October 13, 2014

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — As authorities investigate the death of a teen this past weekend in a hayride accident that injured 22 others, some are taking a closer look at regulations that these seasonal businesses must follow.

No federal agency regulates hayrides. While the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office inspects amusement park rides here, hayrides don’t require licensing, officials said.

“The injuries that occur with hayride accidents are usually quite significant because of the number of people involved and the size and weight of the equipment,” said Jeffrey Reiff, a Philadelphia personal-injury lawyer who has filed several suits against hayride operators.

Some states, including Tennessee, specifically exempt people participating in hayrides from wearing seat belts, according to a compilation of state vehicle occupant protection laws from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Others — including Connecticut, Texas and Wyoming — allow people to ride in an open-bed pickup or flatbed truck, an action normally prohibited, if they are on a hayride.

“The regulation, inspection of hayrides is often left up to state or local municipalities, and as a result, regulation varies from none to semi-good,” Reiff said.

Among other recent hayride accidents:

• Crystal Coffman, 35, of Park Hills, Mo., was seriously injured Oct. 4 when she fell off the fender of a tractor on which she was sitting during a hayride in Farmington, Mo. The tractor then ran over her.

• Robert Bentz, 59, of New London, Minn., died Sept. 6 when he fell between two hay racks tied together so a tractor could pull them for a hayride in Woods Township, Minn.

• Nine people went to the hospital in October of last year after a tractor-pulled hayride tipped over in Milford Township, Mich. The driver later was found to have a blood-alcohol level just below the legal limit and was charged with reckless driving.

• Eleven children were taken to the hospital in July 2013 after the arm that attached a trailer being used for a hayride to a tractor broke at a camp in Molino, Fla. The trailer then hit the rear of the tractor, causing the tractor to tip over and the trailer to crash into nearby trees.

• Eight people went to the hospital in June 2013 in Findlay Township, Pa., when a tractor pulling a hay wagon at an anniversary party overturned.

This past weekend, Cassidy Charette, 17, of Oakland, Maine, died of head injuries Saturday after the wagon in which she was riding careered down a hill in the woods, struck a tree and overturned.

Student Connor Garland, 16, of Belgrade, Maine, who had gone with Charette to Messalonskee High School’s homecoming the previous weekend, was the most seriously injured of the 22 and is now in fair condition. David Brown, 54 of South Paris, Maine, who was driving the 1979 Jeep that was towing the wagon, had surgery Saturday and was released from the hospital Sunday, authorities said.

About a half dozen other injured people remained hospitalized early Monday, but their injuries did not appear life threatening, said Sgt. Joel Davis of the state Fire Marshal’s Office. A mechanical problem caused the accident.

Brown is an experienced trucker who has a commercial driver’s license, according to a spokesman for Harvest Hills Farm, where the wreck occurred.

State fire marshal’s investigators are inspecting the Jeep to try to determine exactly what kept it from stopping on the hill, and state police have been calculating the passengers’ weight to determine if the hay wagon was overloaded, Davis said.

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