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There Are No Federal Laws for Hayride Safety

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A hayride in Virginia, photo courtesy of Virginia State Park. (This location is not one that had an accident.)

A hayride in Virginia, photo courtesy of Virginia State Park. (This location is not one that had an accident.)

In the wake of a hayride accident over the weekend in which a teen was killed in Maine and 22 others were injured, Ryan Adair reports for USA Today that no federal agency regulates hayrides. There are some states, such as Tennessee, that exempt people on hayrides from wearing seatbelts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list of state vehicle occupant protection laws, Adair writes. Connecticut, Texas, and Wyoming are among those states that permit people to ride in an open-bed pickup or flatbed truck if they are on a hayride, Adair writes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Safety Belts page says that in Colorado, people sitting in the cargo area of a truck are not covered by seatbelt laws if the area is fully or partially enclosed on all four sides. Among the places in Colorado where people can go on hayrides are Miller Farms in Plattville and Diana’s Pumpkin Patch in Canon City, according to

Adair quotes Jeffrey Reiff, a Pennsylvania lawyer, as saying that because the regulation of hayrides is up to states or municipalities, “regulation varies from none to semi-good.” Reiff added that hayride injuries can be significant because of the number of people involved and the weight of the equipment, Adair writes.

As Jennifer Smith and Todd Feathers report for The Boston Globe, officials believe a mechanical failure caused the death of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette in the hayride crash Saturday night at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls, Maine. The Bolduc family, owners of Harvest Hills Farms, said they were suspending all activities at the farm for the rest of the season, Smith and Feathers write.

The Boston Globe writes:

The crash occurred when the 1979 Jeep CJ5 hauling the Gauntlet Haunted Night hayride wagon careened down a hill, where it struck a tree and overturned.

‘It looks like there was a mechanical issue with the vehicle that caused [the Jeep] to not stop,’ Sergeant Joel Davis of the Maine fire marshal’s office told reporters Sunday afternoon.

In addition, two people who were injured in the accident were in critical condition, according to Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police, The Boston Globe writes. They are Connor Garland, 16, and David Brown, 54, the driver of the Jeep. Charette and Garland were part of a student group from Messalonskee High School going for their annual hayride, The Boston Globe writes. Some of the others who were injured were still hospitalized as of Monday, but most had been released. The Globe adds that Garland’s condition was upgraded to “fair,” and that Brown had surgery Saturday and was released from the hospital Sunday.

USA Today writes that other recent hayride accidents include:

  • On October 4, Crystal Coffman, 35, was seriously injured when she was run over by a tractor after falling off its fender during a hayride in Farmington, Mo.;
  • On September 6, Robert Bentz, 59, was killed when he fell between two hay racks that were tied together so a tractor could pull them for a hayride in Woods Township, Minn.

Image by vastateparkstaff


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