LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall introduced legislation on Thursday that would make the roadways across Michigan safer for the drivers of buggies and motor vehicles.
Senate Bill 643 is part of a three-bill package in response to the increased number of accidents and deaths involving horse-drawn carriages and automobiles.
“Michigan has one of the fastest-growing Amish populations in the nation, with over 15,000 members,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “This growing population has led to more crashes, so the need to make reasonable changes to the law to increase safety has become increasingly important.”
SB 643 would require horse-drawn vehicles to be equipped with at least two illuminated devices on the front and rear of the buggy. The lights would be required to be visible from at least 500 feet away, and horse-drawn vehicles would be required to use the light at night and during periods of low visibility due to weather conditions. Violators would be subject to fines.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, sponsored SB 642, which would allow counties to require animal-drawn buggy owners to register their buggies before operating them on public roadways. Counties would be required to make available to the public a horse-and-buggy driver manual.
SB 644, sponsored by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, would require all vehicles, including horse-drawn vehicles, to be equipped with tires made of rubber or similar materials while using a public highway. This bill also would ban carbide on the bottom of horseshoes.
“This package of bills was developed after several meetings with Amish leaders, road commissioners and others with a vested interest in finding solutions,” VanderWall said. “I am grateful for the many valuable ideas brought to the table.”
SBs 642 – 644 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.