There are plenty of things you can encounter on Michigan backroads and most of them take their sweet time. That's the joy of backroads! If you were in a hurry you'd be on a freeway, right? Wrong!

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In Michigan, we travel off the freeways in the summer, because all the other streets that lead us to our destination are under construction. As a result, you can often find yourself caught behind someone who moves as if they don't need to be anywhere in the next decade. Being stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle is maddening when you have somewhere to be on time.

Passing Farm Equipment and Horse-Drawn Carriages in Michigan


Whether there is a double yellow line or a passing lane when overtaking any animal in a vehicle, you should always approach with caution. You'll often see horses wearing black patches that block their site (blinders). This is done so they won't be spooked by something approaching from behind them and react as they instinctually do:


According to Michigan law, any vehicle or trailer used exclusively for agricultural, horticultural, or livestock operations is deemed an "implement of husbandry". Though it sounds like a phrase from a steamy novel, Oxford Languages says husbandry is:

  1. the care, cultivation, and breeding of crops and animals.
  2. management and conservation of resources.

Also falling under this umbrella are the horse and carriage. A rider on a single horse, a carriage lead by a stallion, or a team of Clydesdales towing a wagon full of beverages are all considered implements of husbandry. The State of Michigan law for any of these farm implements states that in order for them to be operated legally, they must abide by the following rules, as described by Michigan State University:

  • Michigan law requires a slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem and additional reflectors on any implement of husbandry, farm tractor and special mobile equipment. It is required on every vehicle that has a maximum speed potential of 25 mph operated on public highways. The Michigan Farmer’s Transportation Guidebook contains additional information on the requirement for operating farm vehicles on public roads.

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Arguments are being made by Michigan Law Enforcement agencies that Amish Buggies in particular should legally have to have operating lights that can be seen from 500 foot away. But none of this answers the question: "Can I pass a horse and carriage, a tractor, or any form of implement of husbandry on a double yellow?". I wish I had a clear answer for you. Here's what MSU recommends:

  • Do not pass in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad crossing or bridge.
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That's a pretty clear answer, but when I reached out to a friend in a local department and asked them this very same question, they replied:

General consensus is you may pass on double yellow as long as it's safe to do so...slow moving vehicles are supposed to be as far right as possible


So what if an implement of husbandry is moving slowly and has a line-up of cars behind them? I asked my source if they would be in violation of impeding traffic laws.

...never seen it, but I would say yes, since they entitled to the road, they must obey the same laws and are subject to the same violations as a motor vehicle

Here's the kicker though: As I was writing this article I brought the subject up with my wife and she reminded me that she had received a ticket for passing a tractor on a backroad while avoiding I-94 traffic coming home from Detroit. "Why didn't you just ask me?", she said as she laughed about the time I'd put researching this question.

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So the answer is: Yes, you can get a ticket for passing anything on a double-yellow, so don't do it.

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