Charleston, SC…..On Wednesday, July 28 at 5PM the Tourism
Commission will meet via Zoom to vote on a proposed Carriage Safety Ordinance. Currently there is no carriage safety ordinance to protect the public.
The big question: will the Tourism Commission, the majority of whom have a financial interest in tourism, or in the case of the presiding City Council member who receives a large portion of her campaign dollars (app. 25%) from the carriage industry, pass legislation that protects the public or will they offer up a meaningless, watered-down version that simply serves as window dressing and a P/R move?
Currently, there seem to be more regulations in place for merry-go-rounds in SC than there are for carriage wagons using public rights of way on crowded city streets.
The Tourism Commission sub-committee meetings a few weeks ago to vet the Carriage Safety Proposal, put on full display the gross failure of this City’s Administration to have an unbiased and open-minded meeting about serious issues that affect the very lives of children, citizens, visitors, and animals discussed and grown-up decisions made to keep them safe in Charleston.
As is documented by police records and Tourism department records (download full incident list by clicking on the button below)
since 2016 there have been over 120 carriage-related accidents/incidents. Drivers thrown off, children injured, property damage, equipment failure. A recent incident, that sent an elderly passenger and the driver to the hospital, leaving the horse without a driver, is just the most recent example of the need for a comprehensive Carriage Safety Ordinance.
Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, a local non-profit, presented a comprehensive Carriage Safety Ordinance for consideration to City Council August 2020 after a horse was euthanized as a result of fatal injuries incurred as the horse ran down a city street with a half-hitched wagon.
City Council asked that city attorneys review the Carriage Safety
ordinance proposal and return it to them. City attorneys sent the
ordinance to the Dept. of Livability and it was reworked omitting what we consider crucial parts. Along with omitting a requirement for brakes on wagons, child restraints, independent oversight, and other safety provisions, two major issues were omitted. Random drug testing and transparent guidelines.
In the interest of public safety, at the very least we believe the following need to be amended into a responsible Carriage Safety Ordinance;
The City can and should require that any carriage company that receives a license to operate in the City of Charleston maintain a policy that requires routine, random drug testing before, during employment, and after any carriage-related incident.
The City should not rely on a standard that is not available to the public. Codifying “CONA Guidelines”, (an acronym for the carriage industry trade organization) is not the norm in drafting laws. The liability of using guidelines only available to carriage trade members should be concerning to the legal staff and those who are responsible for public safety in Charleston.
While the comprehensive Citizen Carriage Safety Ordinance presented by Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates was passed over, we at CCHA are hopeful that the Tourism Commission will recommend the full, original City version of the Carriage Safety Ordinance to City Council. Charleston relies heavily on tourist dollars. Keeping visitors and the public safe is the primary responsibility of City government.
Want to help? Write/call your City Council member. Tell him/her to
introduce Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates original Carriage Safety Ordinance proposal for discussion and a vote on the Chamber floor.
And DONATE, TODAY. Help us keep educating and advocating for these animals.