Fall is a great time for outdoor activities, as temperatures moderate and humidity drops, and after a frost here in Pennsylvania, the bug population may not be as bothersome. Going to apple orchards, corn mazes and hayrides, haunted or not, can make for a great way to spend a weekend afternoon or evening.
But like many things, some of these activities are not organized with a great deal formality, and that certainly provides charm, which can be a refreshing escape from packaged slickness of so much of modern life. Unfortunately, sometimes it provides negligence along with that charm.
The fatal accident involving a 17-year-old girl on a hayride in Maine this month highlights the danger. A wagon full of people crashed when the jeep pulling it headed down a hill and apparently suffered a mechanical failure and was unable to stop. The wagon struck a tree and the girl suffered head injuries that led to her death.
These rides are often lack safety checks, and Maine, like most states, does not specially regulate hayrides. The Associated Press reports that only Rhode Island seem to have a statute that deals with these rides.
Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture has the authority to inspect amusement rides, but frequently does not, as they occur on private property, and the ride operators object.
Questions have been raised after the girl's death if the 35-year-old jeep's brakes were in proper condition and if the hay wagon was overloaded. Too many riders could have placed too much stress on the old jeep's brakes or they simply could have been poorly maintained.
While many rides like this are operated safely, some may do more than scare you to death.
WBTW.com, "Maine, most other states don't regulate hayrides," Patrick Whittle and Alanna Durkinm, Associated Press, October 13, 2014