Flashing safety lights might be required for horse-drawn vehicles using highways

PIERRE--Amish families have moved into the Tripp area and a state legislator wants to better ensure safety when their horse-drawn vehicles are on highways in the dark.

PIERRE-Amish families have moved into the Tripp area and a state legislator wants to better ensure safety when their horse-drawn vehicles are on highways in the dark.

Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, is proposing that a flashing amber light be on the front of the vehicle and a flashing red light be on the rear.

The lights would need to be visible from at least 200 feet, and would need to be used from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, and "any other time when there is not sufficient light" for the vehicle to be clearly seen.

The House Transportation Committee voted 10-0 Thursday to give its backing to Schoenfish's legislation, HB 1230. The full House of Representatives could consider it as soon as Monday afternoon.

Schoenfish said there about 15 Amish families totaling about 100 people who now live in the vicinity of Tripp.


He said many of their buggies use the red flashing light in the rear, but, generally, don't have lights in the front.

He said the legislation is similar to Pennsylvania laws regarding horse-drawn vehicles. State Highway 37 and U.S. Highway 18 run through the area.

"You can come upon them pretty fast," he said.

Glenn Roth, Hutchinson County state's attorney, testified by telephone that the county commission and law enforcement are "in complete agreement" on the need for the legislation.

"I think this bill is going to protect everyone," Roth said.

Jerry Diamond, representing the independent insurance agents of South Dakota, called it "a great bill."

Jerome Hoff, chairman of the Hutchinson County board of commissioners, said some segments of U.S. 18 don't have adequate shoulders for the horse-drawn vehicles to move to the side.

"Lights would help all the way around," Hoff said.


"I like the concept. Safety is important," Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, said.

Rounds asked where the front light would be located, noting that the horses are in front of the wagon.

"If we can fix it along the way, at least something will be in place," Rounds said.

Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, asked whether any other areas of South Dakota have horse-drawn vehicles. Schoenfish said Bon Homme County has several Amish families, too.

Rounds said horse-drawn hayrides also would need the lighting.

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