Motorists asked to watch for carriages

GLADSTONE — State Police at Gladstone are advising the public to be aware of horse-drawn carriages and buggies in the Delta County area. Several new families of Amish have moved to the Cornell area and will be commuting into Escanaba and Gladstone on a frequent basis. Ridden, herded, or driven animals are considered “traffic” under Michigan law, and according to the vehicle code, they are treated like vehicles.

Michigan Vehicle Code 257.604 states a person riding an animal or driving an animal drawn vehicle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle. Laws include obvious things that do not apply to horses, such as rules about headlamps, windshield wipers, seatbelts, etc. Riders are required to indicate turns (using hand signals), obey speed limits and stop at stop signs.

In Michigan, horse drawn carriages or buggies are considered “implements of husbandry.” This means the carriage is required to bear the widely recognizable orange safety triangles on the rear to indicate they are Slow Moving Vehicles. Buggies will also have reflective tape which will help in visibility. Drivers will indicate turning left or right by using hand signals.

Troopers are asking motorists to use caution and courtesy as they encounter a horse drawn carriage in the Delta County area and throughout Michigan. Collisions are rare but can have devastating consequences. Just a few days ago a horse drawn carriage was struck by a suspected drunk driver in Michigan with several children fatally injured in the crash and other family members severely injured.