BUGGY SAFETY - The days are longer and the countryside is full of tourists, picnickers, boaters, and other seasonal fun-seekers. When that influx hits an Amish area the result can sometimes be ugly buggy-car crashes. Summer seems to be prime time for a lot buggy car collisions, so now is a good time for a refresher on basic buggy etiquette.
I've traveled thousands of miles of rural backroads over the years in Amish country and never even had a close call because I do tend to be very careful. Sometimes too much so! Once I was driving around an Amish settlement and when I saw an approaching buggy at night I thought I'd be thoughtful and shut my lights down for a split second just to avoid blinding the horses.
I later heard from an Amish person that there was a rumor going around that someone was prowling around in a car and shutting their lights off to spook the horses. SIGH. So no need to shut your lights off at night. But do turn off your brights to avoid blinding the horse and its occupants. But the biggest piece of advice I can give is to use common sense and DON'T SPEED. Speed kills as does inattentiveness. If you are driving slower, chances are you also paying more attention. Most accidents are avoidable.
If you come up behind a slow-moving buggy at the crest of a hill, I don't care how many cars are riding your bumper, wait until there is a safe sighting distance before passing the buggy. I tend to get anxious when there are 10 cars behind me, but, really, safety is paramount, so people can wait a few minutes if need be. Earl Chupp is an Amish merchant near Manton, Michigan and he gives some excellent insight into dealing with roadways and cars. Click here to read the article. It also isn't just buggies to keep an eye out for. The Amish tend to travel by scooters, bikes, and on foot a lot more than the general population. Most areas in Amish country don't have sidewalks. An Amish girl is dead and her brother is fighting for his life in Lancaster County after being hit by a truck while she was walking along the road. This happened on Tuesday of this week, so let's keep the family in our prayers. If you really want to dig deep into Amish buggy safety, the Ohio Department of Transportation published a 20-page study on the issue back in 2000. The study can be accessed here.
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