Shirkey, Leutheuser: Buggy bills will increase safety and reduce road damage

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey is one of the sponsors of a three-bill package introduced Thursday that would make the roadways across the state safer for the drivers of buggies and motor vehicles.

The new legislation is a response to the increased number of accidents and deaths in the state involving horse-drawn carriages and automobiles as the number of people using buggies on roads has increased in recent years.

“After meeting with many Amish bishops in our district, local road commissioners, and other groups who have a stake in these matters, we have crafted reasonable measures to address the issues,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake.

In addition to safety issues, the package also addresses the need to reduce repair costs associated with the use of buggies on roadways, as several county road commissions have voiced their concerns over the steel wheels and steel horseshoes that tear up the roads.

Senate Bill 642, sponsored by Shirkey, 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 643, sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, 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.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, sponsored SB 644, which 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.

House Bills 5208-5210 are identical to SBs 642-644.

“This legislation is borne out of conversations with many constituents who care about the safety of everyone on the road,” said Rep. Eric Leutheuser, R-Hillsdale, sponsor of HB 5208. “We’re thankful for the valuable input we receive.”

SBs 642 – 644 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.