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How safe is your hayride?

Autumn is a time of outdoor fun for many Waco residents. When attending football games, trick-or-treating or going for a fall hayride, locals find the milder temperatures are a welcome respite from the summer heat.

These fun activities can also increase the likelihood of accidents, however. Today's post will address safety on hayrides.

If you're going for a hayride...

Not all hayrides are the same regarding safety. Some are put on by local farmers and consist of Farmer Jones riding the neighborhood kids around on the back of his trailer amid some bailed hay. Farmer Jones may not have taken the proper liability insurance out to host a hayride. In the event of a catastrophic accident, his farm insurance policy could be quickly maxed out — or potentially nullified if he accepted cash for the ride.

But there are plenty of legitimate businesses that conduct hayrides and have adequate liability insurance policies in place. They hire sober drivers with the required skills and certifications to operate farm machinery and carry passengers. They have personnel on-site to help riders off and on the equipment and to alert the driver in the event of an emergency.

If you want to take the family out for an autumn hayride, it's the latter version that will likely be the safest bet.

If you're hosting a hayride

Hosting hayrides on your farm is a good way to earn some extra cash before the holiday season is in full swing. Just make sure that you take steps to protect yourself legally if a rider gets injured.

Speak to your insurance agent about adding an agritainment rider to your policy or increasing your commercial liability coverage. Have all riders (and the parents of minors) sign liability waivers before climbing aboard.

Then, take the steps to make sure that the route for the ride is free of debris or potholes that could dangerously destabilize the farm equipment. Clear any hanging brush from the route. Avoid spots with poor drainage and uneven paths.

Also, make sure that if there is an accident, emergency vehicles have access to the hayride route, if necessary.

Your route should be contained on private land without the need for crossing a public highway after dark. You will also need to do a thorough equipment inspection during the daylight hours before the ride to make sure that all tractor parts are running smoothly. Ditto for the wagon section.

With the proper preparation, both riders and hayride hosts can have a great autumn season.

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