In an effort to curb mishaps, the city of Charleston and local horse carriage companies have struck an agreement to add new signage to carriages navigating downtown streets.
While no change to the ordinance governing horse carriage operations is expected, city representatives announced Monday that horse carriages will soon sport signs warning drivers to keep a safe distance between vehicles and dissuading the use of car horns unless absolutely necessary. The new signs should begin to appear on carriages by the end of July, according to the city.
This decision comes after a series of collisions involving carriage horses in recent months. On June 12, a spooked carriage horse caused a collision with a parked car and flung its driver from the carriage. Occurring in the vicinity of Anson and Pinckney streets, the Charleston Carriage Works driver told police that he believed the horse became excited as it returned to the barn and galloped into a parked car. A similar incident occurred almost a month earlier in the same area when a runaway carriage horse collided with a parked car. Neither incident was said to have been the result of nearby traffic.
Then, of course, there was the case of a young woman dressed as a dinosaur who startled a Charleston Carriage Works horse as it turned from North Market Street onto Anson Street. That incident, also occurring in May, ended with the spooked carriage horse backing into a parked car and tossing the carriage driver. In late April, another carriage horse raced down Anson Street before colliding into the Market after losing its blinders.
“With so many people traveling to and through our area at this time of year, we thought it would be a good idea to remind visitors, in particular, that following horse carriages – or any other vehicles, for that matter – too closely is never a good idea,” said city Livability Director Dan Riccio. “We will be watching this initiative closely over the next several months to see how successful it is in practice and whether any additional administrative or enforcement measures of this kind should be brought forward during our next carriage safety review.”