Kentucky Amish Jailed

Thursday came and went, unsurprisingly, with no change in the stance of Amish in Graves County, KY over the SMV triangle.

So another group of Amishmen were sent to jail yesterday (looks like 10 this time, though it’s a little unclear from reports), with sentences from 3 to 13 days.

As with the Amishmen jailed last September, the men had refused to pay fines for failure to display the orange Slow-Moving Vehicle triangle.  A day in jail knocks about $50 off the fine owed. So with fines ranging from $153 to $627, you can see how the math works out.

swartzentruber amish smv jailThe Kentucky Supreme Court is meant to take up the Swartzentruber SMV issue this year.  Jacob Gingerich, one of the men sentenced, says that he wished the judge would have waited for the results of the Supreme Court case before sending them to prison (one consolation: the Amishmen won’t have their mug shots taken, as happened in September).

Sheriff DeWayne Redmon explained: “You get behind one of the buggies at night, you can’t see it…We’re citing them for their own safety as well as the safety of others.”  Read the rest here.

Barring help from the courts, the future of Swartzentruber Amish in Kentucky looks poor.  At least 3 Kentucky Amish communities are having problems, including settlements in Logan County and Grayson County.  It’s hard to farm from jail, much less live life in peace.

One thing I’ve wondered about is the lack of women charged in these cases.  Are women in these communities simply not driving as much, due to the threat of jail time?  Or perhaps what’s happening is that men take responsibility for non-payment as official owners of the buggies.

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    1. Katie Troyer

      Wonder why these Amish don’t just move out of Kentucky? I remember when Amish moved to Nebraska and had trouble over school etc. Rather than fight or cause a big fuss, the moved out of the state.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy

        In response to Katie Troyer's comment

        To suggest that to practice one’s faith one must move out of state – this to me is simply wrong. Soon there will be no place where one can live. I am glad to see that this is being addressed by the state supreme court.

      2. Shawn

        What a dumbass you are!!!

        An absolute moron! Gee, the Amish were here first! Da! Before roads, before cars, before headlights….What a dumbass!

        1. Shawn, who are you calling names? If you meant that for Katie, I suggest you know who you are talking to. Katie grew up Amish and knows of what she speaks. What about you – do you know what you are talking about, or are you just spouting?

          1. Katie Troyer

            Thanks Saloma. It makes me smile when the non-Amish know much more about the Amish than the ex-Amish do. They have everything down pat. You and I know Amish life is not black and white.

        2. Goodbye

          Shawn, you have a history of rude comments. I’ve tried to be patient in the past with some of your statements and comments. But you crossed the line. I rarely ban people, but you earned it here.

          Seriously, who comes on a blog where people are having a civil discussion, and makes comments like that? Are you kidding me? Take it somewhere else. We’re not going to do that here.

          Katie, as someone who much values your opinion, my apologies you had to read garbage like this. The comment is ugly, but I’m going to leave it up for the record.

          1. Galen

            Thanks for reprimanding Shawn. I just read his comment today and was very surprised that someone would leave such a nasty comment. This is not that type of blog. We are here to learn and discuss the various topics. You have created a wonderful site and respect for others is a must!

            1. Sure thing Galen, I also appreciate the civil tone of the vast majority of commenters here. We’ll try to keep it that way.

          2. Jim

            I know her

            Just so all you folks know, I know Shawn personally, and banning her was the best thing you could do. She is a scary person. She has a criminal record for attempting to kill her husband and his mother, she has been in a mental institution, and has also threatened myself and a lot of our friends (including wishing harm on a yet unborn child…)
            She bases on her views on her often radical, Conservative Religious Right-wing fanactism, and is someone to be avoided.

        3. elliott

          there is no need what so ever for that kind of language. most deffinately on this website, take it elsewhere please!

    2. Mary Manna

      More Amish to Jail over SMV

      I truly love the Amish. I DO want them to reconsider their decision and move forward in getting the SMV. When you love, you don’t want to see or hear of them dying in buggies that have been smashed up in traffic. I want these horrible, sad, tragic events to be greatly lessened – for their own safety. I believe their lives are so much more valuable than holding out in non-compliance with this one issue.

      I care SO much for you, my Amish brothers and sisters. Please reconsider and know that from me, this comes from a heart of love for you.


      1. Jan-o

        Keeping them with us...

        Mary Manna, your statement is not only true but beautiful! I hope they reconsider as well. What precious lives…what wonderful examples of good they exemplify.

    3. Stephen B.

      I think the Amish are in big trouble in this country – much more than they may know. I realize that Fox News website reader comments (such as are attached to the Fox News link above) are not a fair representation of the entire country, but coupled with comments I’ve seen in more liberal places like The Boston Globe, I see that there is quite a bit of hostility directed at the Amish because of their different chosen way of life and strict religious views. In some places, people make fun of the Amish due to their religious beliefs, while others mock them as Luddites. It’s one thing to disagree with the Amish over things such as the SMV triangles (I too think they should put something on the buggies), but the level of taunting and mocking I am increasingly hearing and seeing amongst the general public most definitely seems to be growing. It kind of reminds me of how people are tarring and feathering (so to speak) immigrants. Perhaps it’s due to the economy (and maybe the fact that both the Amish and immigrants are very hard working and manage to make something for themselves in an otherwise tough economy), but it’s a very disquieting development I think.


      Moving can be an expensive option too. Their farms are probably not worth as much there as in some other states. The state as well as the Amish need to do some negotiating and if this does not work, the Amish can continue to go to jail. I f something is worth holding on to, the cost is not too great. Their ancestors spent more time in jail over religious convictions.

    5. I thought of the case a few years ago in my native Maine, when a family petitioned the legistlature to raise the number of moose licenses granted in order to reduce the number of moose in the state. Their father had died in a night-time collision with a moose. If you know moose up close, you know they are about as big as a buggy, and a lot more solid.

      My father, after a long lifetime of driving in the Maine woods and meeting many unmarked moose, had this suggestion, “Maybe you should just slow down.”

      So if you live in buggy country, maybe you should take that into account, and slow down.

    6. Kim

      Comment on More Amish to jail over SMV

      This is a “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, common sense, safety, obey the law of the land where you live, SAFETY (I repeat) issue. Apparently this group of Amish is blinded by obedience to rules they have made which puts them and everyone else on the road in danger. They are not the only ones who use the public roads.

      I feel strongly about this as I have seen way too many Amish/Mennonite deaths in my area with buggies that already DO have triangles on them. Any time you have 60mph cars and 5mph horse and buggy/wagon folks on the same road the accident rate skyrockets.

      So unless this group of Amish wants to ride only on their private roads, I can’t see any sensible reason or Biblical mandate for them to fight putting red triangles on their wagons/buggies.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy

        In response to Kim's reply

        “So unless this group of Amish wants to ride only on their private roads, I can’t see any sensible reason or Biblical mandate for them to fight putting red triangles on their wagons/buggies.”

        Kim – this is not about what your mind can reason out in regards to their faith. It is also not about a Biblical mandate. They require and choose complete obedience to their chosen rules, to differentiate their way of life, to cause them to live simply and thoughtfully and humbly. They would prefer jail to
        disobeying their chosen rules and way of life. You don’t have to agree or understand, but it is their right in this country to live according to the tenants of their OWN faith – not the dictates your reason tells you are apt. The reality is if people drive safely and at appropriate speeds, accidents will not be a problem. Where they do occur, it is the Amish who who hurt – almost entirely so – a buggy is no protection against a metal vehicle. When accidents do occur the Amish do not sue, do not complain, and simply experience it to be the will of God. IF you believe that simply safety should be the basis of all rules, then we should have speed limits of 40 for everyone, and no phones or texting, and no music. No drinking or eating while driving. Since smoking is dangerous to everyone’s health, it will already of course be outlawed for everyone, so we don’t have to stipulate no smoking. These are all simply matters of convenience and preference for “English” folk – yet imagine the upcry if we tried to dictate such “safety” matters. For the Amish it is an aspect of their obedience to their faith, including their ordnance. Imagine if we tried to make prayer illegal. No one would stand for that in our culture and world – in some places we no longer allow it in certain settings, but we can’t outlaw it.And if we did many folks would go to jail rather than submit to such a rule. Telling the Amish they “must” disobey their faith’s ordnance is exactly the same thing. Sara

        1. Kim

          Sara, I did not say that “simply safety should be the basis for all rules”. I don’t see at all how this relates to someone trying to make prayer illegal, either. But thanks for your thoughts.

        2. Katherine Behr

          teeny-tiny correction of your facts, Lance

          Dear Lance,

          Thank you for your thoughtfulness in your long comment. Now I am New Amish from Texas. My husband’s cousin is an Amish man from Pennsylvania who moved here for the climate. He comes from a line more conservative than me. I can assure you that when we visit their house there is indoor plumbing. There is indoor plumbing in our home, too. There are at least twelve subgroups of Amish. As far as I know, only one sub-group does not have indoor plumbing as a matter “of religious beliefs”. Some groups use telephones at the house. Others do not. A few groups use computers for business purposes only, to buy and sell crafts, etc. There are many different groups of Amish just as there are many groups of Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics and all other Christian groups. What all the Amish do share in common is a life of light footsteps on the land, restoration of the land, and organic farming adn ranching. Also normally love of family, neighbors and their fellow man (humans). A lot of the Amish I have met spend 2-5 hours a day in their Bible and are basically like walking saints, you can feel the love of Jesus in their presence. They also will just about give you “the shirt off their backs”. This does not mean that every one of them is this way. I’ve met some “old Amish” ladies whose comments about my genetic heritage would have electrified a kitty-cat. Fortunately I don’t think they are a majority.

          1. Lance

            Hi Katherine Behr,

            I guess I mislead you into thinking I was saying all Amish don’t have the list of things I pointed out. In no way did I mean that. In my comment, I was only referring to the Amish in the context of this topic, which is the Swartzentrubers.

            I am quite well versed in the varieties of Amish. I have some Amish that are trying to make sure I do not consider the conservative Amish as even friends. But they are my best friends and the most Bible reading people I know. I also have New Order friends, Mennonite friends and non-plain friends who have tried to get me into their order. I still prefer my conservative Amish friends, but that is not part of the context of this topic.

            So, I am sorry I mislead you and I am glad you find peace in your group and I even more hope you are at peace with Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

        3. ANNA Walters

          Respect for the Amish

          I happen to admire the Amish and their way of life. They are honest and do excellent work. I do not see how a red triangle will save speeding vehicles, with drivers not paying attention protect them. What about a light on the back? If not leave these good people alone. Respect their beliefs. I hate hearing any negatives about these human beings who choose to lead a life not filling there minds with all the crap in the mainstream. Why can’t we just love and respect others especially those that do no harm.

          1. Kimberly


            Well said. My heart hurts for everyone in both sides of the accidents. I drive in communities every day and one of my worst fears is looking off for a split second, or not seeing a buggy or someone in a bike or simply walking and hurting someone. Or worse. Also, I really hate to hear and read people’s views on the lifestyle Amish choose to live by. We all should be able to choose to live the lifestyle that suits is without judgment. Why is there always people that express their views on how the rest of us should live our lives. We live in the finest country in the planet. One thing of many that’s makes our beautiful country the best is we’re all supposed to be able to worship, live and be completely free to choose our own way.

      2. Barry

        More Amish to Jail Over SMV

        Differences of opinion about religion are difficult when it comes to compromise, because both sides are entrenched in their beliefs. This issue began as one of public safety, but is rapidly becoming about religious freedom. If there is no way to compromise over the orange triangle, the Amish simply should not drive on roads after dark. One article I read said that the Amish considered the traingle to be representative of the trinity of God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. If this is true, I can’t imagine God being offended at tis.

        1. Sara Mandal-Joy

          This topic is only considered to be about public safety by those who refuse to acknowledge the religious freedom principle involved for the Amish.
          People who don’t acknowledge the right of the Amish to believe and practice their own religion by their own rules are, from my perspective, showing blatant intolerance of an entire religion, and of a (if not _the_) core founding principle of our country. I will say no more. I’m not trying to be contentious, I simply see a huge unwillingness on the part of some here to see this from the perspective of the Amish and their faith. Others simply didn’t understand that the Amish already are doing what they can within their faith to be visible. The only ones I see here standing stubbornly with arms crossed are those who refuse to acknowledge that there is an issue of religious freedom being discussed here. Sara

        2. Kimberly

          Vehicle accidents

          They have reflectors, lights, triangle or some sort. Maybe all of us motorized vehicle drivers need to pay a little more attention? I’m not saying that if we all did everything absolutely right, that there wouldn’t be anymore accidents, however, anyone that’s ever driven anything knows that we do occasionally get distracted. We do take our eyes off the road. We do lose focus sometimes. An orange triangle isn’t the going to matter sometimes

    7. Merry

      Reasonable negotiations?

      The objective is to provide adequate advance warning to motorists that slow moving vehicles are sharing the road which would offer some measure of protection for the Amish travelers. Perhaps I am wrong but I have a mental image the Swartzentruber Amish with defiant arms folded across their chests. It seems to me that the group with an objection to a law has the responsibility to offer a reasonable compromise – specifically regarding a warning sign shape and visible color. I’ve read nothing in any of the published articles that they have suggested a solution that would be acceptable to them.

      My other thought is this: I live in an area having “open range” livestock grazing areas. The livestock grazes on unfenced land and often wander to the other side of the highway where the grazing might be better. Signs are posted along the highways alerting motorists of “open range” for the next X-# miles. Now, the interesting bit is that I’ve never seen cattle with reflective paint, tape or other sort of additional warning. Call me goofy but I’d lay odds that there are signs posted on the roads in Graves County Amish areas alerting drivers to the fact that they may encounter buggies ahead. If we motorists know to slow down around open range or deer crossing signs (and I’ve yet to see a deer, elk, etc. with reflective tape) then it seems only reasonable that the motorists in Amish areas should be just as attentive.

      1. Amen, Merry! Sounds simple enough and I bet it would work, too.

      2. Tom

        There are fatalities every year in KY do to car accidents caused by deer and elk.

    8. Lance

      This is a religious tenant that they will never change

      To these Amish and others like them, this is an EXTREMELY important issue of religious practice. They will not and cannot change anymore than a Roman Catholic can stop praying to Mary or a Pentecostal can stop speak in tongues. Whether you agree with either of those religious practices is not part the argument here. The point is the Amish that do not accept SMV signs will NOT change their stance anymore than any other unique religious practice. They would rather all die in accidents or persecution than to change their religion. There simply is no room to compromise as the Amish see nothing to compromise on.

      Katie Troyer, they will eventually have to leave KY, I am sure no one is going to move into the Swartzentruber communities in KY until they get a law allowing them to not have SMV symbols. The Amish will be patient for a while, but they will not give up their lifestyle nor religion for ‘english’ law.

      Mary Manna, I understand your point, and I so glad you too care deeply about them, but please try to understand theirs viewpoint too, you want them to give up a part of their religion, they can not.

      Stephen B., yes, we should all be worried about America and American values and behaviors. I think that is one the reasons so many people are looking at the Amish as a solution(look at the topic with the most comments in the sidebar on the right side of the page), they want the old fashioned values the Amish still hold on to. Should they give up one of those values to appease car and truck drivers? They think it would reduce their trust in God and put bold flashy and worldly symbols on them. They just cannot do that.

      Look at how stern and stubborn these people already are. In the day of Android and iPhones allowing incredible portability of computer apps, vehicles with built in video players and in dash moving maps, and every restaurant, truck stop, school, and library are wifi hotspots to keep us connected, we have a people that do not have indoor plumbing, electricity, phones, or automobiles of any kind(and many other points of refusal to progress). We all admire them and photos of them(go look at the comments on the bottom of any ’10 photos’ page on this website), while at the same time we seem to want to change them. I am not sure I can fully understand that.

      If my comments have offended anyone, I apologize in advance. I just trying to get you all to understand these people’s point-of-view.

    9. TGD

      SMV's & Ky land

      for the earlier comment from Osiah about prices vary and I know of 40 acres within 15 or 20 miles in the next county from this trouble with the SMV’s that brought 600k that without the houses would have been about 10k per acre for bare land. Most ground brings 3000 and upward. I have been part of a community which included OO Amish where the emblem was displayed and hope that these families will reconsider this. Personally, I believe that being on the highways is participating in worldly things and to add the emblem to reduce the numbers of tragic accidents is sensible. As the heartfelt message above from Mary Manna said, we must consider others, including the innocent law-abiding automobile driver who deserves as much chance as possible to avoid a terrible accident that could bother them forever. I was glad to read they didn’t have mug shots this time, but I saw the news clip on local TV last night and they filmed several of their faces. Is fighting this one aspect of worldly life worth the likelihood of accidents, jail, photographs, and more?

    10. Becket Fund

      The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (non-profit law firm) has represented Amish communities here In New York State.

      I am wondering if the Becket Fund is representing this Swartzentruber community.

      Ms Hardman is the person to contact.

      It is possible that the ultra conservative Swartzentrubers would not accept any legal representation.

      George Vanderwoude

      1. Tom

        The ACLU is representing these Amish.

      2. Based on the latest news it seems they actively contacted legislators for help in changing the law:

        I’m finding surprising the willingness of these folks, who are generally considered about the most conservative of all Amish, to fight the situation. Not the submissive approach you might expect.

        In-state ACLUs have helped Amish before, as in PA:

    11. Jessica

      I can see why the low Amish don’t want a flashy orange sign on their buggies. But it’s a matter of safety – theirs and others. Can’t the government come up with something else, that the Amish can agree to? Small white reflectors on the back of the buggy? Even a lantern hooked to the roof and lit while they travel? There has to be some way to solve this!

      1. Lance


        All Swartzentrubers hang at least one lantern at night on the left side of the buggy. Some hang one on each side. All of them that I know, also have a gray reflective strip of at least 72 sq inches on the back of the buggy. I have shined my head lights on these buggies and can attest that this gray material shined bright white when the head lights are directly on them. There has been a push in some areas to get the Amish to put most of this material on the lower half of the buggy where the head lights would point at it best. The material fades over time, so they have agreed to replace it every few years. I also have been able to attest that lanterns on the buggies, while not bright, are easily visible for over 1/2 mile distant.

        Buggies have lighting, although not a lot, and reflection. They just don’t want that gaudy sign! It is against their belief in God and His will.

        1. Merry

          @ Lance

          From what you have shared it seems they have tried to offer a reasonable solution. Thanks for the information.

    12. Marilyn from NY

      I agree with Mary that the Amish ought to reconsider. In New York State we have seen several severe accidents even though the slow moving signs were on the buggies-how much more could happen without them. They are not condemning their religion-they are trying to save their lives. Driving at night and coming upon a slow moving buggy – the buggy is hard to see until you are upon it. Been there. Done that. I have enough common sense to try slower-even below the speed limit-when I am in area when I know the buggies are-but others don’t. I love the Amish and Mennonites and want them to keep their ways-but sometimes you have to give a little.

    13. Anne

      A mess!

      This really is a messy situation. Now having an Amish son and daughter-in-law, I worry alot about their safety, and they DO use the reflective triangles! But cars and (unmarked!) buggies on the same road do not mix…

      If there was a Biblical, principled reason for resistance to this I would be completely supportive. But this group is only sticking to tradition for tradition’s sake. They loose credibility when they take this kind of stand.

      The group of Amish my son joined considers all technology carefully, rejects most of it for principled reasons, but now and then will make an accommodation that is a “no brainer”. This is one of those.

      1. Anne you are in a pretty unusual situation. I bet you have learned a lot these past couple of years.

        1. Anne

          We have learned alot! Some we like, some we are not so sure about…Anyway, one of these days I’ll get something written about the wedding. Very interesting and I’m still digesting. And NOW the big news is that they are already expecting. Yippee!

    14. Beliefs...

      I can understand why the Amish in particular the Swartzentruber’s do not want this SMV sign on their buggy. It reminds me of a story out of Canada a few years back where we had a Royal Canadian Mounted Police not wanting to where the standard issue uniform hat/helmet but wanted to be able to wear his turbin. He won the case on his beliefs! We are such a melting pot here in North America and Canada in particular so for us to tell one religion they have to do this cause we say so but another we will make concessions for does not make sense to me.
      I have never been to a community that had buggies that did not post to ALERT drivers of the possibility of encountering the buggies. We do the same for Deer/Moose/Bears and they simply come out of nowhere and thus in those areas one needs to be alert and reduce their speed at night. Buggies do not travel in complete darkness, they either have a latern, or something that is noticeable as well they don’t make it a habit to be out touring around in the dark hours.
      I think that some more care from the drivers on the roads and ensuring that the buggies are travelling with some sort of light.
      We are so quick to encompass the beliefs and religious barriers of immigrants why are we so intolerant of the people that have ancestorial roots here long before many of our own families?
      My aim is not to offend anyone just get us all thinking outside the box!
      My heart breaks each time I hear of a buggy/vehicle accident but how often are these accidents truly related to there not being a SMV sign on display? More times than not it is speed/drugs and alcohol that have played the biggest factor in the crash.

    15. Lattice

      There is nothing in the Bible prohibiting bright orange triangles. The problem with it being against their Ordnung could most easily be resolved by the church coming together and voting to allow them in an effort to show love to their neighbor (if I were to accidently hit someone in a buggy, I would NEVER get over it… please show some compassion toward me and attach the triangle at dusk).

      I have heard that it is the gaudiness that is so offensive to the Swartzentruber. What if it were removable for during daylight hours? What if it could be hung by an extension a few feet from the buggy so it is not actually attached? I can appreciate how the buggy has become a near-holy symbol of their separation, so perhaps displaying it near, but not actually on, the buggy is a solution that shows love and kindness to those driving faster moving vehicles, while not desecrating the the sanctity of the Amish buggy.

    16. Robin


      As a catholic – I will be praying for you. There is an easy way to resolve this issue, how, I leave that to smarter folks than me – I agree God’s word is more important.

    17. Mary

      Even though I feel the Swartzentruber Amish should reconsider their stand againest these safty devices,(makes no sense not to), I at the same time am concerned how our freedom is being threatened and taken away little by little. We all applaud the government when they make laws againest things we feel strongly about, such as smoking in public airports, abortion, gay marriages, etc. (to me all of these are wrong)and other things WE like, but whenever they do that, rest assured that sooner or later they will take some of OUR freedom away too. Things WE do not support! I think there should be a better solution then moving out of state for these Amish.

    18. Loretta

      Shawns Childishness

      What a wonderful board this is, everyone knows how to debate, how to have a spirited conversation and leave feeling good.

      Then Shawn comes along, offers NOTHING to the conversation, calls people ugly names, attacks others opinion–and people CAN have different opinions, otherwise, why open this forum up to posts?

      Shawn shows his/her childishness and immaturity. And owes every one (including Erik) an apology. Perhaps this person should grow up a bit before being allowed with people who have enough respect for themselves to behave?


      1. Hi Loretta, yes I just had a chance to read comments and noticed that. See my direct reply and action regarding Shawn in that thread above.

        So hopefully we can continue a civil discussion. I’m sorry people had to read that, and I am glad that this isn’t an issue with the vast majority of readers here.

    19. Loretta


      Glad you did, Erik. You had not posted that rebuke when I hit my send button. Our posts must have crossed at the same time. 🙂
      (Or maybe I took so long to think/write.) That made me mad!

    20. Katherine Behr

      Compromise? Points of Agreement? P.O.A.?

      Would this group of Amish consider having a yellow warning sign or red or pink or even electric blue marker on the backs of their buggies and wagons? Would the Kentucky dept. of public safety consider a different warning marker? After all, people and horses could get maimed or killed due to lack of a reflective warning marker. I love my horses. I would not want any one of them to have broken legs or get killed because of my religious beliefs. After all, if those of us who want to live like the Amish get stuck in the hospital, jail or get killed, who is going to teach the rest of the world about sustainable living and sustainable farming? The Amish restore the land and bring heritage vegetables and other good things to the planet. It’s a very healthy (usually) way of life.

      Love and blessings to all, Sister Katy (New Amish) (Texas)

    21. George Vanderwoude

      Minnesota vs Hershberger

      A Google search on Minnesota vs Hershberger will result in a number of links including some reflecting the view of the U.S. Supreme Court on the right of the state to impose and enforce laws in such a case.

      Minnesota vs Hershberger pertained to the same issue of refusing to display safety signs in 1990.

      It is interesting that the Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case in view of the existing jurisprudence.

      During my four decades long dairy farming career I have been hit a few times during the dark hours even though I was operating a tractor properly displaying the SMV sign and with adequate lighting. In every instance it was an issue of excessive speed by the operator of the motor vehicle.

      Darkness impedes adequate judgement of speed and distance of the slower vehicle ahead.



    22. Cynthia

      I don’t get it. Why do the Amish refuse to do something so simple for their own, and others, protection? Seems like a very simple thing to do, to me.

    23. Debbie Welsh

      I agree with Mary Manna’s sentiments.

      However, if the issue is the gaudiness of the red triangle, would they go along with a reflective white one instead? I understand this is a religious issue for them, but surely there must be some kind of compromise to be made, for the good and safety of all concerned here.

    24. Tom-GA

      triangle sign on buggy

      Lattice is correct, this is not a religious (biblical) matter. It is the Ordnung created by people. As I understand each Amish group”s Ordnung is different and the Bishop can change, delete, overlook, add at his discretion. This is as I understand from reading information regarding the Amish.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy

        reply to Tom

        Tom, these decisions are not made by mind or for convenience. It IS a matter of religion. If enough people within a church disagree, by conscious, by their listening and belief, then they can leave and start their own district church. The Amish elders are responsible for hearing/receiving, in present time, God’s will in any given situation. This is not simply tradition or stubborness. And logic or convenience have no say in such decisions. Your understanding of Biblical likely doesn’t leave room for God’s inspiration/input in present times. And, look at all the various church/religion interpretations of the Bible, not to mention religious beliefs of many different faiths, some not Bible based. But their beliefs must also be honored.

    25. Lattice

      Yes, their beliefs should be honored…in their homes, churches, schools, farms, and on their bodies, but not on PUBLIC roads. If they must use public roads, they should abide by civil law. Yes, the Amish “live” their religion, but “religion” is not necessarily scriptural. In fact, the Bible instructs Christians to OBEY civil law (See Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1-2, Matthew 22:20-22), but says nothing about SMV triangles on buggies…or anything even close. I have heard and understand their arguments, and can appreciate their unwillingness and concern over making changes to their Ordnungs, but their refusal to obey God’s very instructions to obey civil law could potentially cause an unsuspecting automobile driver to commit manslaughter. Heaven forbid! Every other group of Amish has complied with this law and they are just as Amish as before. I do not want to accidentally injure anyone. I can’t imagine they would want to produce a stumbling block of that magnitude.

    26. I think if we distill this down to a single question it comes down to: Should religious groups be exempt from following the rules of the road? For more about this, visit my blog:

    27. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I’d compromise / thanks Erik

      If I were a member of the Amish community in question I think I’d try to compromise, I think I’d maybe not place a triangle on my buggy, but try to utilize some other “less invasive” indicator, perhaps in a shiny gray or silver colored strip or strips which wouldn’t conflict too badly yet at the same time be noticeable to others, perhaps the sort of shade some construction workers or road crews wear on their vests.

      Erik, on the topic of bad behavior on the replies to the blog entries, I think you handled the “poster behaving badly” rather well. Thank you for being a fair and patient moderator these discussions which has been spurred by your well thought out and insightful blogs.

    28. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I wanted "in"

      PS, Erik, could you remove my first comment and this one, I didn’t mean to post the same thing twice. Thanks!

    29. Teresa B.

      First Erik, I am sending you a big “Thank You” for taking care of the Shawn post. Oftentimes, I just read the posts and don’t always comment. But I was literally shocked and outraged when I read Shawn’s post. How crude, disrespectful and completely inappropriate for Shawn to have resorted to name-calling, and in such an ugly manner! I want to reassure Katie Troyer that most of us respect her right to post her own opinions which she does in a kind and appropriate way.

      My feeling on the triangle issue (or reflective tape) is that there are others to consider here besides the Amish. If I should be the one to hit an Amish vehicle and seriously hurt or kill someone, I would never be able to get past it. A recent picture of a small Amish wagon, driven be a teenage boy, was crushed beyond recognition. The boy was killed. I shed tears over this occurrence, thinking of my own grandchildren. Also, I agree that all motor vehicles should slow way down in Amish areas. The problem with that is that everyone will not comply, so while I am driving slowly (I don’t live near Amish),other drivers behind me are going full speed and will crash into me. There you have a multi-vehicle collision with the Amish likely dead, and myself and the second motor vehicle occupants injured or dead. So yes, I think there are so many factors to consider here besides the Swartzentruber Amish beliefs. Let me say I have great respect for, and interest in, the Amish people. As a whole they seem to be God loving, hard-working people. But on this issue I believe they must be willing to compromise, in order to protect their fellow man.

      I don’t know the answer to this, but if a motor vehicle hits and kills an Amish person in a horse-drawn vehicle, does that motor driver have to do jail time, or possibly be charged with manslaughter? Maybe some of you who live in Amish areas can answer this for me?

      1. Jail time for causing buggy accidents

        Hi Shom, Teresa, unfortunately there was really no other choice. I want to keep this a place where people can have civil, good faith discussions.

        Teresa as to your question about jail time, it has happened that serious criminal charges have arisen–I guess it would simply depend on the circumstances.

        We had a few examples of that recently, including one 2-week spell last summer during which there were 3 separate deadly incidents involving Amish carriages and intoxicated drivers:

    30. Milo


      The problem seems to be the nature of Belief itself–that nearly any facet of life can become an issue of belief and associated with a mandate from God. Each near collision on a dark road reinforces one’s positive connection with God, and each tragic death is attributed to His inattention or change of mind. Belief allows for all forms of folly and stronger belief serves to validate itself and insulate the believer from scrutiny.

      The entire premise is self-serving, probably delusional and renders humility a farce.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy

        Milo – your judgments of another’s faith, of others’ beliefs, is just horrifying, to me… To me, the way of life of my Amish friends and neighbors is the absolute epitomy of humility. To me, it is our hubris that makes us believe we know the answers to what is true for everybody and everything.

        Jessica – the Amish are not “using” the court systems to get out of anything. They are saying they believe that their freedom of religion is being unfairly impinged upon by their arrest, finding, imprisonment, etc. But it is the system that is taking _them_ to court. They are simply saying they are not guilty because they are following the tenents of their faith.
        They are saying what they believe to be true. They are not suing. They are not trying to “get out of anything”. They are simply proclaiming that believe they are innocent in practicing their faith. Should that expression be silenced? I don’t think so.

        Lance – I am in agreement with your comments on this matter. All the reflectors in the world, of any shape or color, will do nothing when speed and/or alcohol are involved. Or, as happened locally recently, an elderly driver who couldn’t really see and shouldn’t have been driving (no longer had a license).


    31. Jessica

      I chose for them to change, but neither answer is really what I think perse. If the Amish feel that displaying the triangle is wrong, then that is fine. They shouldn’t display it. Kudos to them for sticking to their beliefs. However, they must realize they live in an area that feels that requiring the triangle will greatly aid in the safety of the people. If the Amish choose to disobey the government on basis of principle, then they should be willing to accept whatever consequence may come to them, whether paying a fine, jail time, etc. Perhaps there is a compromise they can offer? If they are not willing to compromise, then they should not be using the court system to try and get out of obeying the law.

    32. Lance

      The belief in SMV symbol

      I have followed along with all that has been said about this topic. The one thing I notice is that people are taking it as a given that SMV symbols greatly change whether or not a crash happens into a slow moving vehicle. I have found that to be nonsense, and read about this subject some time ago that there is a very minor effect as to whether there is a SMV symbol there or not. I really wish I could document that for you all, but I no longer fully remember where that info was. All I remember was the info was in a government report in regards to farm equipment and auto accidents.

      My point is that SMV’s have had VERY LITTLE impact on crashes into farm equipment. I believe it is the same with buggies. SMV’s do not change things much, so forced usage is not a major factor in auto/buggy accidents. I believe speed, alcohol, drugs and in vehicle electronic devices have a much greater impact, pun not intended.

      Faith in God and the doctrine of providentialism(it is/was God’s Will) are what helps us deal with a crash into anything, buggy, farm equipment, truck or plane or whatever. SMV’s, grey reflective tape, lights or lanterns, or anything else we place on things in our roads will not change God’s Will about whether you are in a accident or not.

      That is what I have been taught by being Amish for 2.5+ years in a group that did not have SMV symbols on anything.

    33. Nancy


      This is a fascinating discussion: belief vs safety. Frankly, I am torn. I live in an area of New York were our Amish population is rapidly expanding and we are feeling the growing pains. A stretch of highway I travel every day to work and back to home does see some buggy/wagon traffic. Not much yet, but some. We do not have any buggy symbols, although on another highway one county south and west there are buggy alert signs. However, observation of cars traveling both roads reveals the same thing.

      The presence of an alert sign at the side of the road does not reduce the speed of most cars. The cars that slow down only slow down marginally. The absence of alert signs does not mean drivers are necessarily unaware of the potential of meeting up with a buggy/wagon. I know I might see one wagon going in the opposite direction from me. I start watching for it every morning and when I see it, I slow down and move over to the right.

      No sign whether it is on the side of the road telling motorist to be cautious, or SMV signs on the back of a buggy has the power to slow some motorists down. Speed, drug, alcohol, texting, chatting on a cell-phone — distracted driving has more to do with accidents, IMHO.

      Whatever happened to tolerance? Respect for differences? We ask of the Amish ‘why can’t you compromise’, when are we going to ask of the state of Kentucky ‘why can’t you compromise’?

    34. Kim

      Comment on More Amish to jail over SMV

      Nancy, I live in upstate NY as well and see lots of buggy Mennonites in our area on my way to work. Because I am familiar with a lot of them and have a fairly routine drive, I too look out for them and I always pray for their safety when I see them on the road.

      At night here I have seen a buggy out from time to time, and they usually have flashing lights on them. I remember the first time I saw something in the distance one dark evening and could not figure out what it was….until I was very close to it and realized it was a buggy. Many times on very overcast days in NY (you know about these!) a dark buggy can be difficult to see.

      It’s probably drivers from out of our area that don’t know they may happen upon a buggy that put the buggy folks most at risk–because there are very few of those warning signs you were referring to.

      In the town where I work, we have horse and buggies going right through town (small town, several stoplights) all the time, so the locals know to watch out for them. Nevertheless there are horrific accidents once in a while, just as there are with all car drivers—I just think it helps to have all the visibility you can whether you are Amish or non-Amish.

    35. Katrina

      My understanding is that the KY Amish are objecting to the orange-red color of the triangle. The reflective strips they use now seem to be too narrow, and not enough of them (as evidenced by photos of the KY buggies on this website) . Why not cover the bottom half of the back of the buggy with silver-gray reflective material that is at leat 28 inches high and in a rectangular shape, extending from side to side? It seems some kind of compromise can be reached.

    36. Stephen B.

      While I certainly understand the idea behind Plain-ness, of not calling undue attention to one’s self out of modesty and of not wanting to be too much of this world, it seems to me that as times and fashions change, the Amish haven’t really updated their fashions enough to actually *stay* plain. That is, it was one thing, back when, to wear plain-looking pants, no zippers, shoes, and what have you, to stay plain, but it seems to me, the real way to stay plain in this day and age would be to wear some no-name jeans, a plain tee-shirt, solid-color, with no other printing or logo, and some plain boots or brand X sneakers. THAT would truly make the Amish not stand out.

      As it is now, what with making the buggies look very old-fashioned, and their Plain clothing look as if it came off a sound stage set for an historical movie, it seems to me that the Amish are anything but plain anymore.

      I realize that this discussion you all are having here pertains more to buggies than personal appearance, but I think in a way, the idea still holds.

      I myself, working with at-risk teenagers – teenagers who are the very epitome of fashion-conscious, attention seekers – I wear very nondescript jeans, plain tee-shirts or shirts, and whatever cast off, sneakers I can find, in order to demonstrate for them that clothing is NOT what makes the man.

      It seems to me, if Amish folk really want to make a similar statement or want to make *no* statement at all, they should do better at updating how they define Plain.

      Or… maybe what they’re attempting to say with their fashion, both for vehicles and personal appearance is different from what I’m attempting to do with the kids I work with. If so, any thoughts would be appreciated.

      Thanks 🙂

      1. Kim

        Comment on More Amish to jail over SMV

        To Stephen B.:
        You make a really interesting point, Stephen. Their dress really does draw attention to them, it’s more like an “Amish Uniform”, than staying plain in this time setting. I never really thought of it that way. Very interesting thought to chew on!

    37. OldKat

      Whether this issue is ultimately resolved to the satisfaction of the Amish community or to that of the state one thing is certain; the SMV signs WILL DO LITTLE TO ACTUALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Will the buggies be easier to see; especially at night? Probably. Will the motoring public slow down one iota even after seeing the SMV symbol on the buggy? Honestly? It is very doubtful.

      I will NEVER drive any of my horse drawn vehicles on a public roadway after dark; even if I had flashing red and white LED lights over every square inch of the rear end of the vehicle, because people that are not going to slow down will not slow down regardless what they see. It will only impact the small minority of drivers that are already courteous and careful. It may tip them off to danger ahead and they will slow down. Don’t believe me? Ask any police officer or highway patrolman how many times he or she has investigated an accident where someone had car trouble, pulled to the side of the road … WITH THEIR EMERGENCY FLASHERS ON and then their car was struck by another motorist who piled into the rear end of the stalled vehicle … even though it was clearly illuminated with tail lights, emergency flashers etc.

      In our community there was a 26 year old local man that was killed Christmas night when his stalled vehicle, which was pulled to the shoulder of the road and with emergency flashers going full tilt and was struck by another vehicle. He was standing off to the side of the road, away from his vehicle and when it was struck a door from his auto dislodged, flew through the air some 20 plus feet hit him and fatally injured him. The driver of the other vehicle? An on duty highway patrolman.

      So yes, it is probably worth the effort to find a suitable compromise that will somehow increase the visibility of the slow moving horse drawn vehicles that the Amish and other plain communities use for transportation. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will prevent all future auto / buggy accidents. Won’t happen. The real answer is sort of like the auto / moose story, above, motorists need to SLOW DOWN. That won’t happen either. The other option is for the drivers of the horse drawn vehicles to keep them off the road at night. Does anyone really think THAT will happen?

    38. Dayna

      it wouldn’t matter if that amish buggy had the triangle on it or flashing LED lights, the driver of the vehicle was DRUNK when they hit the buggy!

    39. Amsey Horst

      Another perspective.

      I grew up Old Order Mennonite in Ontario Canada. Orange triangles have been around since I was a teen. I remember when they first started. The OO embraced them without question. To anyone who says the Amish will not or can not change, that is simply not true. They are in a constant flux. It’s just about when and how, not if they change.

      It is ultimately very simple. As a group they do change things. I know that growing up Old Order, twice a year we had, I can’t remember what it was called but in essence an inquiry. People would have the opportunity to meet with the clergy and present a proposed change or resolution or a request to hold back on something. The Elders would then come together and decide what should happen. I’m quite certain that these Amish have a similar procedure. If they agreed to it and requested that all their members use these triangle then they would become commonplace and no longer look gaudy. The other part of this that I don’t understand is that their believe in non resistance should have them paying the fines without protest. Until they do that I don’t have much sympathy. They are just being stubborn. They can change this policy any time they choose.

      Amsey Horst

      1. Paying fine=conceding error?

        Amsey, thanks for finding us and weighing in, your comments are much appreciated.

        Just a thought–when you say that they ought to pay the fines without protest, what about the idea that paying the fine would be conceding that your stance is wrong?

        I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that, but I think that line of thinking may be part of this.

    40. Allyson L

      Very interesting point!!

      Amsey Horst makes probably the BEST statement I h ad heard about this….. The whole non resistance and there stand on the SMV signage and the fines that have accumulated as a result.
      Thanks for bringing this point to light Amsey. I honestly think why not put them up on your buggy if they potentially could protect someone. I firmly believe that speed/alcohol/drugs play a bigger factor in these crashes than an orange triangle.
      Thanks for the enlightening post Amsey.

    41. Compromise acceptable to Amish in the works?

      Looks like there is a compromise plan reported on over the weekend. It has supposedly been found ‘acceptable’ by Amish leaders.

      “Winters said his proposal would replace the orange triangle with silver reflective tape on the rear, both sides, the harness frame and front of buggies increasing all-around visibility; particularly when illuminated by vehicle headlights at night.

      “If you were coming out from a side road you could have 1,000 inches of reflective tape or a dozen triangles (on the rear of the buggy) and you could not see them. So now they can see it from the side also…It jumps out at you,” he said.

      If the bill becomes law, it will also require identification of both the left and right side of buggies by lanterns mounted on each side with the lantern on the left side mounted higher so automobile drivers can tell if they are in the correct lane and pass on the left “high-beam” side.”

    42. Merry

      Thankful for the update

      And still praying that the legislators will also revisit how they might improve adherence to current vehicular driving laws: observing speed limits & road condition warnings, and specifically cellphone or texting distractions and alcohol/drug related driving violations. IMHO all states need to get tougher on those.

    43. chuck

      maybe another way will help

      Hi, all
      I’m a Christian, so I love and respect Amish Christians.
      Being a bicyclist, I have had painful experiences with motor vehicles that resemble the Amish ones. We travel at the same speeds on the same roads. To be plain, some of the abuse of my (our) right-of-way comes from “law enforcement”.
      Regardless, here’s my idea. Bicyclists now have access to very bright LED emitter headlights and bright LED flashers. Many of us could use more miles and incentive to ride. I’m perfectly willing to volunteer to ride to meeting points and ride behind any Amish buggy any night. Bicycle clubs post rides on their websites, they meet together and ride together. They have more presence when riding together, and the harassing motor vehicle people are more exposed as bullies.
      I live in Jackson, Ohio where we have an Amish community. I would be willing to post rides and ride them here.

    44. Jeremy


      I say this with ALL due respect and sincerity. Could someone tell me what Beluga do the Amish hold that prevents them from applying these reflective triangles? I am just curious, that’s all.

      1. Why no Amish SMV?

        Jeremy, thanks for the question. You can see a brief explanation here:

        Also, a number of the posts below (“Related Articles”) will have explanations, either in the post or comments. Reader Lance in particularly does a good job of expressing the objections of the conservative Amish minority who refuse the triangle.

    45. Tana


      I pray that the Amish will reconsider putting SMV signs on their buggies. As a farmer, we use them on every piece of equipment we have. It’s not to make an example of them, but to protect them, and protect others on the road. The Amish in my area use them. I don’t think I would take one of our tractors down the road without a SMV sign on the back of it. Too many accidents have happened in our area because of missing SMV signs. We all have to share the same roads, so why not make sure we’re all safe?

    46. Larry Kowalski


      Iss tom to be or not to be. We did do the doe and no one came. Beesh traven is here I am, but low and behold a mind is a mam. Your carny called Here to see if I am and I said to ye I am who you see. You see you said I am and you ain’t, You isn’t and you never will be. My mind is made up here at Beesh traven that no one will see my an. A gording to the keys you have two keys and I have ween. Your mysh is meany and I ain’t teen. You beat it now cropper I ain’t ween. Your bore is waiting.