8 Tips To Help Reduce Buggy Accidents

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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    1. Alice Mary

      Useful info

      Thanks for these useful tips for driving near buggies in just about any Amish area. Since I don’t live in an Amish area, nor do I visit as a driver, it’s still very important to know this. I really think the DMV in Amish areas especially ought to make sure drivers are aware of what to safely do when encountering a horse-drawn buggy, day or night. It would also seem useful if horses could wear reflective markings on harnesses (or whatever) so that they, too, could be noticed more easily in the dark.

      Alice Mary

    2. Ren Semans

      Thank you for the tips. It’s a shame that people have lost their common sense since self-help books started appearing. I have copied and pasted the tips on my laptop and if I can get your permission, I will put it on my facebook page with proper citation.

      1. Hi Ren, I’m not the creator of the image, you can always check but I doubt it would be an issue if you shared it since it is intended to be publicized to promote safety. In any case here’s where I found it (the link from the post above): https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2018/july/plain-peril-reducing-buggy-accidents-in-amish-country

        1. Ren Semans

          I thought as much

          I thought that I would be allowed to post it, but it never hurts to make sure. Granted if anyone tried to sue me, they would get absolutely nothing. As they say: Can’t get blood from a turnip.

    3. Just think how much better off we all would be adoption 1-2 of Amish cultures like riding buggies for everyone, how much money would be saved on fuel?

    4. Lorrie


      After moving to Lanc. County last Fall, I learned that it serves you well to be patient and considerate. Very frequently, you have to ‘hang back’ and wait, wait until you can actually see the full stretch of road you have in which to pass and enough road to leave that 20′ gap behind your car and the horse. There are so many hills and valleys here. Please, be respectful. Wait until you reach the top of the hill and know for sure there is no oncoming car. Swing wide and don’t pass unless you have that 20′ space in front of the horse and you once you make your pass. That horse is working hard, be kind. They have as much right, if not more, than you do to travel the roads in their mode of transportation. I note since moving here no matter how fast I am going, sometime exceeding the speed limit, I am still getting tailgated. Slow down.

    5. Kevin

      Post Whole Pamphlet

      You should consider putting the whole pamphlet on here because I don’t live near Lancaster anymore. These tips would be good for any community where Amish live.

      1. I haven’t seen the full pamphlet, though the image above seems to capture a lot of the important things to know. Not sure if the pamphlet contains a lot more than what’s there but if anyone has it I’d be glad to see it.

    6. Valerie Blethen

      I carriage drive too

      I would love to see buggy signs on our road. I am not Amish but have many Amish friends. I do drive my horses on the roads around my residance. How does one go about those yellow buggy signs? I should be protected also so drivers are warned.