I know it is only September, but the chill in the air and relief from the summer heat and humidity has me thinking about fall, pumpkin picking, Halloween, mums and hayrides already. Hayrides and pumpkin patch visits have always been one of my family traditions. In fact, since one of my girls was born in early November, many of her birthday parties included hayrides, apple picking and pumpkin patch visits. Little did I know at the time, the hidden dangers of hayrides – and I am not talking about the haunted hayride staff that was hired to scare us. I am talking about the serious dangers hayride operators hide from the public.
Hayride flat beds that are so nicely decorated with hay and pulled by tractors are not designed to carry people. They are designed to carry hay, dried up corn stalks or crop harvests, not people. Not only can the weight of the hayride riders exceed what the trailer can hold, there are no structural safety features in place to protect riders in the event of a sudden stop, collision, sharp turn, jack knife or roll-over. When a child is placed in a car, there are strict guidelines and laws on how they must be restrained according to age and weight. Drivers and passengers, when in a car, need to wear seatbelts. It is the law. When a child wants to go on an amusement ride, they must meet certain height requirements so they fit safely into the restraint harness. Yet anyone can board a hayride and not be restrained at all. Yes, hayrides are fun, and I admit, I love them. But, there are no safety restraints or restrictions on weight limits.
Think about it if you have ever been on a hayride before. The operators are not calculating the total weight being loaded onto the ride; they are calculating how many bodies and dollars they can squeeze in or fit onto a flat bed that will be pulled by a tractor. And, did you ever stop and think that the tractor pulling the flat bed full of people is doing it without a headlight, over uneven dirt roads or farm land with deep grooves in the dirt. Did the operators of the hayride make sure that the weight of the passengers was evenly distributed? Even worse, if a rider falls off and screams because they are being hurt, does anyone listen or do they just think it is a rider that was screaming because after all, it was a haunted hayride. Screams for help may go unnoticed until it is too late.
Each year, there are thousands of youth clubs, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and families that take field trips to pumpkin patches, hayrides and haunted hayrides. Yet, each year, hundreds are catastrophically injured, paralyzed, suffer amputations or are killed on hayrides. If you do not believe me, just do an Internet search yourself on "hayride accident". It is frightening and I do not mean that in a good Halloween frightening way. It is down right scary.
Am I just trying to be ghoulish and scare you before you even get on the hayride? No. There are many reputable hayride operators that are well aware of the need for safety for their riders over profit. Unfortunately, especially with the economy the way it is right now and many farmers losing crops due to the hot summer weather and flooding rains due to tropical storms, like Irene that hit the east coast this year, "hayrides" are popping up all over the place, without proper safety measures or concerns. Farm owners that lost their crops due to the weather are now advertising hayrides just so the farm owner or hayride operator can recoup their crop losses and make a few bucks at the expense of your life or a family member's life.
Like always, I am going to continue on with our family's fall tradition and go on a hayride in a few weeks. You should too. Just make sure where you go has a good track record of success and safety record. Make sure your Halloween season if full of treats and not tricks.
Here at the Beasley Firm premises liability law firm, we have evaluated thousands of cases where people were catastrophically injured, paralyzed or suffered a wrongful death after they trusted that a hayride or amusement ride would bring fun and not pain. If you or a family member was injured on a hayride, please feel free to call one of our experienced hayride accident lawyers, nurses or doctors at (215) 866-2424 for a risk free and strictly confidential consultation.