The Amish in Texas County, Missouri are few in number. Nonetheless, they’ve found themselves frequent victims on the roads lately.
A woman and her two children are in serious condition after their buggy was hit Friday night by a pickup truck. This was the third buggy accident in two years for this sparsely-populated southern Missouri County.
Texas County is unusual for several reasons. It is the largest of the state’s 114 counties in area, by a good measure. Its county seat is called Houston, keeping with the Lone Star theme. And in the last census, it was the site of the mean center of the US population, which has migrated across the state over the past several decades.
It’s also home to two Amish congregations, who first came here 10 years ago. Yet there’s another sad oddity to add to the above list. In September 2017, a driver rear-ended a buggy in the community, killing a 29-year-old pregnant Amish woman. Less than a year later, the driver hit another buggy, carrying four youth – on the same road.
This KY3 video report below shows us a concerned local woman. She suggests there should be more road signage in the area to raise awareness of the Amish. However, she points to a possibly deeper root cause of buggy accidents:
“It breaks my heart to see this, because some people in this town just don’t have respect for them…they don’t. And really it’s sad because they share the roads and we have to respect them. There needs to be more awareness of the Amish here.”
I’m not exactly sure what “don’t have respect” means here. She might mean a lack of respect for the vulnerable position buggy drivers find themselves in. Or, it might mean outright dislike or animosity of the Amish as people.
It should also be noted that the driver who struck two buggies on the same road was 83 years old. Age-related factors (poorer vision or reaction time?) may have played a part there.
Some years ago we asked the question, are tourist or local drivers more dangerous for Amish buggies? In that case, I mentioned that some Amish friends felt locals were a greater danger.
My impression is that tourists sometimes do stupid things like stopping in the road for a photo, but locals tend to be more aggressive and impatient. Reader comments on that post overwhelmingly suggested locals were worse around buggies as well.
Do locals in Texas County disregard Amish safety as the woman suggests? Is there animosity towards the Amish here for some other reason, as you see in some places? If that’s the case, would more signs even make a difference?
Many factors are cited when buggy accidents happen – driver inattention, lack of visibility, lack of buggy markings, driver impairment, speed, and more.
But is disrespect or dislike of the Amish a root cause which goes undiscussed in many of these reports?
Drivers get frustrated by slow buggies on their roads, causing them to drive erractically or with disregard for the safety of the Amish drivers. This can take the form of high speeds, dangerous passing on low-visibility curves where passing shouldn’t happen, and cutting too close when merging back into the lane after passing. I’ve witnessed it on many occasions. And if you happen to dislike the Amish and see them more as strangers than neighbors, that can’t help.
It sounds like this could be part of the problem in Texas County. If so, it wouldn’t be unique in that.
Sadly, Missouri has recently seen another buggy accident, one which ended in tragedy. Less than two weeks ago, a 7-year-old Old Order Mennonite boy was killed, when the buggy he was in was struck by a pickup truck, in St. Francois County, MO.
In that case, the teenaged truck driver was said to have not been paying attention on his morning drive to work.