Amish child buggy drivers: Indiana lawmakers’ response

The WANE news channel has aired a second report, of Indiana politicians discussing the Amish child buggy driver issue (video no longer available). The station interviewed 2 Hoosier state lawmakers.

One seems a little flustered by the issue, as if he’d like to do something but can’t for reasons like religious rights. The second says that he doesn’t think “the age factor has that much to do with it” and seems less inclined to agree with the premise.

However according to the narration both agree that it’s “dangerous”, which seems to be the reporter’s predisposition too. Yet no one seems to be backing it up with data that shows Amish children drivers are involved in more accidents. Maybe that data exists and maybe it doesn’t. Here the assumption is simply that it is dangerous, and that is the starting point of the reporting.

(It may also be possible that some interviewees are conflating the child driver issue with the bigger idea of Amish buggies in general traveling on busy highways being dangerous, though here it’s presented as if they’re only talking about the children).

I’d still maintain that all things being equal an experienced adult buggy driver is going to do better in a dangerous situation. However you can say the same thing about driving a car.

If I had the choice I’d rather ride with a 40-year-old experienced car driver than a 16-year-old freshly-licensed one. There are always going to be better and worse car drivers in any population but barring serious violations we allow them all, both the excellent and not so good, to drive.

In most states driving is legal from age 16 or 17. Maybe the skill set English possess to be able to drive a car is there for most people at age 16, and for Amish youth the buggy skill set is in place by age 10 or 12. A study would be helpful; assertion that it is simply “dangerous” because 10 seems young to non-Amish observers doesn’t prove that it is.

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    7 Comments

    1. Ruth

      Amish Drivers

      This reporter wants to blame the Amish for not following the rules of the highway, but if you watched this news clip all the way through you will see that a silver colored car was following so closely behind an Amish buggy that when they passed it they went all the way to the left shoulder of the road. I will add the this car passed that buggy near the crest of a hill where the Solid yellow line was in his lane. Now tell me, who is not following the rules of the highway?

    2. Charles Oliver

      News video

      I agree. It seems like all the camera angles are staged to make it look like the amish children are in constant peril. They always have a big truck flying by really close to the camera. They never show them trotting peacefully down a quiet highway.

    3. Tom

      Without any sort of statistics showing that younger drivers deviate the mean by a higher rate of incidents, I see no way of making any sort of judgment or any grounds to why the law should be changed. Roads are a dangerous place for all people, and I think if we all pay better attention while we are driving and utilize better decision making then accident rates could be lowered. And by all I mean Amish and non Amish.

      I agree with the assessment on the journalism, as it appears to have biases related to the conclusion the reporter wants the viewer to reach. But it is my opinion that true journalistic standards have eroded in this country, or perhaps they never really existed to begin with.

    4. Ed

      I agree; if we’re going to even think about changing any law, we need statistics and hard facts. At this point the whole issue seems to be much ado over nothing. Next week hopefully the news station will have found some other unusual situation to fret over.

    5. Carolyn B

      Thanks for posting the part 2 segment.

    6. I think that there needs to be much research done on this. If we are talking about maturity I would have to say that there are many English youth at 16 that probably not as mature/responsible/road worthy as many of these Amish children of 10-12. These kids are taught and earn the right to drive where by the English 16yr has the given right to drive so long as they get their permit.
      I am inclined to say that many times there are excuses made as to why buggies are hit from behind for example…well the sun was in their eyes…that said they would have run in to the back of a car? Ran a child over? etc etc etc but the English are quick to say it is because it was a buggy and or a child buggy driver. I think EVERYONE English and Amish need to be more careful while travelling on the roadways!

    7. Nadja

      I was a child who drove a cart on the road - and lived to tell about it!

      When I was a child I used to drive a pony cart on a highway that was travelled by cattle trucks, hay trucks, and all sorts of vehicles and farm equipment.

      I guess it was a good thing that I lived in the Yakima Valley in Washington, and wasn’t Amish because no one ever tried to claim I was a road hazard.

      If you’ve grown up with equines, and have learned to handle them, it is no big deal to take out a cart or buggy when you’re a kid. It is no more risky than having children riding bicycles on the roads, which they do in every state in the union.

      This just sounds like more lawmakers trying to look like they are doing something useful by micromanaging and interfering with everyone else’s life.