Amish buggy safety video–Ride along with a Geauga County Amishman

The topic of Amish buggy safety comes up often on this blog. In rare cases acts of nature result in accidents (the recent Kentucky Amish tragedy).

Sometimes, Amish are to blame. This week, an Ashland County, Ohio Amish youth was ticketed after reportedly racing another buggy and clipping an oncoming car. But more often, car drivers are the ones at fault.

Recently I came across a video made after an accident last September in Geauga County, Ohio.  A vehicle struck a buggy from behind.  The eight Amish inside, including a pregnant woman, were ejected onto the road.  She later died; her unborn baby survived.

In response, the Geauga Amish community took the unusual step of inviting a news crew to travel along with a buggy driver, in order to demonstrate the dangers they face.

In the video below, Geauga County Amishman Donnie Schmucker carries on two conversations–one with the newsman, the other with his horse.

If you’ve never ridden in an Amish buggy, this gives you about the best simulation you’ll get.

You’ll get a sense of what it’s like to have traffic whipping by at quadruple your speed.  Donnie discusses the “fear factor” of going out on busy roads.  At one point a passing van screams by, which Donnie says “scares the daylights out of some people”.

It’s also pretty remarkable that the Amish would take this step.

Amish in Geauga County are not the most conservative, but based on personal experience I’ve found them generally less open to outsiders than their nearby Amish cousins in Holmes County.

Hopefully this video will help do what they intended–get people to slow down and “be aware of your surroundings”, as Donnie says. (Update: video removed)

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    1. Alice Aber

      Thanks for sharing this Erik. I sure hope it does some good. I know the last time I went down to Arthur I saw several cars just whizzing along at top speed not really paying attention to the road as they were busy looking at the country side. In fact one almost hit me. I can not imagine the damage that would have been done had they hit a buggy.

      Blessings, Alice

    2. Richard

      Good morning folks……… Since watching the preview “leaving Amish paradise” on Erik’s site, I have put part 1 of the 4 part series on my blog today. It aired last night on the BBC, and was available today for us to view. This looks to be better made than most that I’ve seen, and i hope to see someday a series of folks who decided to become Amish. I don’t think that’s yet to be made, not to my knowledge anyway. So i think someone choosing to join the Amish could do far worse in choosing a church or culture to be members of, and there’s much to be admired of the Amish and their ways. Temps are moving higher here in the Lancaster/Lebanon area, with 71 degrees projected for fri. Yes spring is definitely in the air this week anyway. Richard. Pennsylvania.

    3. Rhonda

      Erik, thanks for posting this. Motorists in horse-and-buggy country need to be very cognizant of their fellow travelers. Safe journeys to all.

    4. lanore

      I feel for the Amish, I have seen how the drivers of cars have no reguard to them. Idea…..Wouldn’t it make sence to have a lane just for the Amish buggy? Esp where there are high traffic areas. Just make sence to me. It’s scary for them I’m sure. =-D

    5. Mona

      Thanks for posting this Erik, hope more people will be more careful when passing the buggy’s….

      Richard when is part 2,3,4 on again on BBC ? Will you please post it so viewers can watch it…..I would love to see it…..also what is your blog address, I seemed to have misplaced it ? Thanks

    6. Richard

      I watched the first show from the BBC “leaving Amish paradise” before posting it. I thought it was one of the better made Amish documentary made about folks leaving the Amish, which is the only reason i decided to put it on the blog. I can not speak very well about the others that I’ve watched over the years, and i wouldn’t have even known about it until i saw it on Erik’s web site. For some reason maybe because i respect the Amish in so many ways, i found this series kind of sad to watch because these about to be ex-Amish folks were not able to stay with the Amish. When your watching them you somehow hope that they change their minds while its being filmed, so it is compelling in that way. I then found the 3 other shows so i decided to post them as well, so i quickly looked at the rest to make sure they were done in a tasteful way.I wrote this morning that it would be nice to film someone or a family who decided to become Amish, but i thought about that and find that most unlikely. I think its always easier the other way around, but you never know so I’m at least hopeful anyway. Of the times that I’ve talked to any Amish, they all have stories to tell of buggy accidents, so a car vs. a buggy, well you do the math. If you want Mona you can e-mail me and ill give you my blog address at Amishstorys@hotmail.com. And to be honest with you, you can find these videos on YouTube. Well that’s it for now, we are looking forward to a nice warm fri, to bad its not on a weekend. Enjoy the rest of the day folks. Richard. Pennsylvania.

    7. As a person who rides her bike a lot I am not surprised at all that drivers are careless around buggies. Some drivers only care about the other cars. I have had to throw myself into a ditch once and had other close calls when I have followed the traffic rules perfectly. But no, someone not in a car is not worth caring about…

    8. I’m glad Donnie and co. let the crew film this. From my experience when you ride in a buggy you do feel exposed–just a bit of tarp between you and the open air. I can’t imagine what taking a car hit in one is like.

      Though when you see the image of the shattered buggy in the video it brings it home. Compared to an SUV at 55mph, these things are flimsy.

    9. Kevin Lindsey

      Thanks for posting this message. It gives some good advice to us who may have to pass a buggy too. I personally always slow down and get as far over as I can, and then dont accelerate again until I am past the horse, so as not to spook the horse. I also have ridden in an Amish buggy too, and I agree you do feel exposed. I know its a very unusual event for the Amish to allow this video, but I am glad they die!

    10. Kevin Lindsey

      Oops…that was a bad typo! The last line was supposed to be I am glad they did! Guess I need to proofread before I hit submit!

    11. sonofagun

      Many Amish in my area at least, choose to pay someone to drive them around in a car rather than using a buggy – this would obviously be a better choice for travel on the main hughways or for long trips. If they MUST travel in buggies on busy highways then better warning emblems or lights on the rear of the buggies or other improved safety procedures would be advisable. Those of us “English” who care about the Amish in their area (as I do) should volunteer to drive them around at reduced (or fair) rates. The tragedy of car/buggy collisions should be reduced or eliminated however possible.

    12. Good thoughts Kevin. Typos are a pain but I’m glad you caught it 🙂

      Sonof there is a lot of that in the bigger communities especially. You do see buggy lanes in some places as well but not everywhere. In some areas it’s just not physically possible without tearing down houses.

    13. Matt from CT

      I wonder if public ed Kiosks would help (I know, I’m probably WAY overly optimistic…)

      I remember coming across this at a very, very steep grade in New York — as I recall, there’s a stop light at the top and a big sign directing all trucks, trailers, and any drivers who haven’t gone down the hill before to pull into the turn around and read the directions first before proceeding.