Philadelphia Car Accident Involving Horse-drawn Carriage Sparks Protest, Safety Questions
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on April 27th, 2010
Two carriage drivers were sent to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with serious injuries on Monday morning following a car accident,on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. The accident occurred at around 10 a.m. when an elderly driver crashed his car into the back of a horse-drawn carriage — one of several stopped at a red light.
The car’s impact forced the carriage across the street, toppling two more carriages in front of it. A number of the horses broke free and bolted, before they were calmed down by passersby. Though scared, scraped and bruised, none of the horses were seriously injured.
However, two carriage drivers suffered serious damage, including head injuries, though both are currently in stable condition and expected to recover. The 70-year-old car driver was also taken to the hospital following the car accident, but has not yet been charged.
The crash sparked renewed calls for carriage bans from the Peace Advocacy Network (PAN), a Philadelphia-based activist group that focuses most of its energy on promoting veganism and animal rights. PAN has long been opposed to Philadelphia’s horse-drawn carriage industry and Monday’s car accident simply added fuel to their fire.
PAN members have already announced plans for a Saturday protest.
While refraining from comment on the animal rights side of the story, it’s worth taking a closer look at services like horse-drawn carriages and asking whether they really belong on today’s city streets. As Monday’s accident showed, it can be very dangerous to carriage drivers — not to mention the horses. Even if you don’t agree with PAN’s morals, it’s hard to fault them for wishing the animals safe conduct on city streets.
Additionally, imagine the outcome if those three carriages had been carrying passengers. Surely, there would have been more injuries. While driver error appears to be the sole cause of this accident, it makes little difference to the individual who has already suffered brain damage or another severe injury.
Dangerous drivers pose a threat to all of us, but the threat is even greater for those traveling by horse-drawn carriage — without any sort of protection. Certainly, you could argue that the danger posed to horse-drawn carriages is no worse than that posed to bikers and pedestrians, and, to be sure, that is a valid point.
But how many variables do we want out there on Philadelphia streets? It’s not an easy question, but one worth considering.
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