There have been more than 630 buggy/vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania over the past decade.

Based on that number, you can estimate roughly 3000 accidents across the entire 350,000-plus Amish/horse-and-buggy Mennonite population in that time.

The Lancaster General Health system has created a list of tips for drivers to try to bring these numbers down.

This came in part from firsthand immersion in the Lancaster Plain community.

From the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine News Blog:

Earlier this year, Reihart and his colleague Eric H. Bradburn, DO, director of the LG Health Physicians’ Trauma Program, went for a ride-along in a buggy down some of the County’s popular smaller roads to understand firsthand the dangers buggy riders can encounter. Rural roads are often narrow, giving drivers less room to maneuver or see open ditches around sharp turns, Bradburn said.

Local and out-of-state drivers are often unaware of how and when it is safe to pass a buggy, how much space to allow when passing, or how to avoid a collision in the dark or otherwise dangerous conditions.

“It was frightening to see how cars drove around us,” Bradburn said. “We were passed by 18-wheelers; with distracted drivers on cell phones and even a few blowing their horns.”

I appreciate this list because it covers several things that might not be so obvious. For instance:

  • Leave at least 20 feet in front of the horse when returning to the travel lane after passing
  • Stay back when stopped at a stop sign. Buggies often roll backwards after stopping
  • Buggies will merge toward the center when making a left turn. Drivers may use signals or hand gestures to indicate the turn
  • At night, the buggy may be illuminated, but the horse may not have reflective harnessing

Here’s the full list in image form:

You can find the 2-page “Drive Safely in Amish Country” pamphlet at tourist destinations in Lancaster County, including restaurants and Amish-run businesses.

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