Amish buggy hazards

If you keep an eye on the news feeds, every couple weeks or so, a story about a road accident involving Amish pops up.  Reader Sherry recently wrote a moving post about such an accident in a Michigan Amish community.  Driving a buggy is a hazardous activity, more hazardous in some Amish settlements than in others.

For example, the largely rural Amish communities of northern Indiana and Holmes County generally have wide, even buggy-width, shoulders on the main thoroughfares traversing the settlement.  This is certainly not true of all the roads, however.

In other settlements, especially newer and more urbanized ones, roads are not as conducive to carriage travel.  In some communities, such as Allen County, Indiana, Amish have carved out crude side lanes on neighboring farmland, for short stretches along some of the busiest highways, allowing a degree of safety.

Hills are another hazard.   Holmes County is a community where hills cut down driver vision, and they have been a factor in numerous accidents.  Amish buggies travel at a deceptively slow speed, roughly 5-8 miles per hour on average, sometimes 10 miles per hour when traveling at a good clip.

Ten miles per hour is approaching top marathon runner speed, but with cars traveling 50 mph or more on some country roads, that is of course nothing.  As readers who’ve driven in Amish country know, you really come up surprisingly quickly on even the fastest-moving buggies.

Compounding the hazard, some Amish do not use the slow-moving-vehicle triangle accepted by the majority of Amish, most notably Swartzentruber Amish groups.  The triangle helps even in the daytime, when a dark buggy can blend with objects on the horizon.

A few years back, I did a post on one such buggy accident in Ohio.  Ironically, I was on the way that morning to interview an Amish businessman who was also an EMT.  When I arrived at his home, he had actually just returned from the scene of the accident, in which a girl was severely injured.

When traveling in Amish America, it’s always worth keeping especially alert.

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    1. Rick

      Certainly there is mention several times in every issue of the Amish newpaper Die Botschaft of minor and serious accidents. I am amazed by how well buggies seem to hold up in a minor accident, though I’ve only seen in person 1 on its roof. And while I’m sure the buggy owner is quite inconvenienced to have to have his buggy repaired or replaced, I don’t sense that anxiety or despair in reading letters or in talking to the guy previously mentioned… whereas us English…

      The flip side is the occasional reckless buggy driving that invites accidents. There is a quarter mile flat stretch in front of my sister’s in New Wilmington PA that sees some high speed passes and racing.

    2. Around Seymour Mo it is quite hilly in spots and there have been some nasty accidents there.

    3. paula

      I’m a mother of three children and have had not so great of a life i would love to join the amish community in ontario perfer close to toronto as i live there currently if someone could help me out and point me in the right direction i would really appreciate it. thank you sincerly paula

    4. magdalena

      while younge men liek to race their buggies at times, some of the young Englisch and some not so young seem to get a thrill out of harassing slower moving traffic. It doesn’t seem to matter if the slow moving vehicle is a buggy or just a horse and rider or even a bicyclist. I believe reckless driving is just getting to be a bigger hazard everywhere.

    5. I agree with Magdalena – it shouldn’t matter if it’s a buggy or a bike, or a scooter even. Drivers in those areas know they need to go slowly and still choose not to at times. Preaching to the choir here, I know, but it’s frustrating hearing about preventable things. Have a great day ~

    6. Ruben

      recently there was an accident involving a snow mobile and a buggy in Lancaster County.,0,3495393.story

      Awefull things, those snow mobiles. During the 2010 blizzard an Amish friend picked me up from Paradise with a sleigh, and I was really affraid the snow mobiles flying past us on 340 would eventually hit us somehow.

    7. Amish youth car driver causes fatal accident

      That craving for adrenaline in youth is universal, as Rick’s example seems to suggest. And it’s not necessarily in the buggy–in Northern Indiana a few years back there was a pretty horrible car accident with a young Amish youth driver behind the wheel. I myself am not too terribly far removed from “youth” status but have always been something of a grandma driver. And just try to ride in my car without a seatbelt on!

      Rups still haven’t had a sleigh ride though that sounds like a good time. Hope we’ll catch up in April in Lancaster!

    8. Tayler Johnson

      I agree with some of you but I live in Kentucky near the amish. I can see why they would the buggy because thats how they were brough up and they should not have to change there ways just because some of them act

    9. Tayler Johnson

      I agree with some of you but I live in Kentucky near the amish. I can see why they would the buggy because thats how they were brough up and they should not have to change there ways just because some of them act stupid maybe wanting to show off. But i don’t think any of you gusy have the right to judge them unless you actually see how they live!! Thanks 🙂