Hayride regulations: Who's in charge?

Incident at Camp Dearborn under investigation

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A weekend hayride accident at Camp Dearborn in Milford is bringing new attention to the fact those rides are unregulated in the state of Michigan.

The latest accident happened Sunday at the popular Camp Dearborn. A camp supervisor told Local 4 that 18 people were on the ride, and were thrown off when something went wrong. Most people were treated at the scene, but three were taken to the hospital.

Milford police have referred questions about the accident to the City of Dearborn, which owns and operates the camp. So far, the city hasn't offered an update on what caused the accident.

The Ruth to the Rescue consumer unit did some checking and found there is no state agency charged with regulating hayrides. The issue came up in 2011 when there was an accident at Jenny's Dexter Market. In that case, a worker was injured, which brought the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration into the case. However, there's no state agency that has jurisdiction over consumer safety issues, in regards to hayrides. Safety advocates have said hayrides often go unregulated because they are held on private property.

The consumer unit also did some checking for safety guidelines that might help consumers stay safe and found these common sense ideas. One insurance company posted these tips.

*Listen to ticket takers, attendants and operators. These people not only know the rules of the hayride, but are also probably reciting them. They will correct anyone they see doing something wrong.
*Do not stand on the ride. Hay can be slippery, and a moving wagon is not a stable surface to stand on.
*Do not throw straw.
*Do not use cameras or other devices that will distract you. You may really want to take a quick photo of your family on the hayride to post on Facebook. While the ride is moving, it's important to keep your focus on the ride.
*Hold on. It's one simple way to help ensure you won't fall off the ride.
*Keep arms and legs inside the wagon. You don't know the trail the wagon will travel. There might be some tight spaces. Keeping your arms and legs inside the wagon will help make sure nothing hits you.

Other tips:

*Be cautious when loading and unloading from the hayride. Make sure the hayride is at a complete stop before getting onboard or off. If there are steps, they could be slippery because of the hay or straw
*Be careful when finding a place to sit. Your foot could easily slip between bales if you walk on them.
*Hold on to small children and railings as bumps in the path could easily bounce you and them off of your seat.
*If the hayride is horse-drawn, be careful around the horse and do not approach it if the hayride operator states not to. If it is a tractor pulling the wagon, do not touch it as there are many handles and buttons that could accidentally be pushed. The tractor could also be hot from running for a long period.
*Do not walk in the hayride path. Stay in a safe, well-lit area when you are not riding.

The season for hayrides will be coming to an end soon, but following these guidelines whenever you ride could keep you and your family safe.

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