Maine Amish Children Given Safety Armbands

Amish children in the newly-formed Whitefield, Maine community have been provided reflective armbands by state transportation officials.

This community was covered here earlier this year, and is maybe a year old, with just a few households. From centralmaine.com:

At Wednesday’s meeting, which Marple said lasted about 90 minutes, the Amish received reflective armbands from the state transportation department that their children could wear when walking on the sides of the roads. Marple said the group discussed making sure the children are walking on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic, especially when going to and leaving their school on Route 218.

This is the first I’ve heard of officials providing this type of visibility gear to the Amish.

It looks like locals want to do what they can to keep their new Plain neighbors safe, as they are investigating other ways to raise awareness of the Amish in the area.

There have recently been two minor accidents in the area involving horses-and-buggies.

Not all Amish would use this type of material, but I assume that if the Amish at Whitefield are getting these armbands, this group is open enough to use them.

At least one of the families hails from Heuvelton, New York, a Swartzentruber community.

In certain communities it is quite common to see reflective vests or ankle bands for bicycle riders, which can be purchased in local shops.

The vests are clearly more visible than an armband would be. You can see examples of reflective vests in this video below of children in Lancaster County.

Another thing you can feel from this clip is a sense of how precarious traveling to school can be.




There’s not much shoulder for these children to use their scooters (if they’re walking, of course, they can get further off the road). And you can feel the contrast in speed between the vehicle and the scooters.

Lancaster County is much more populated than the Whitefield area. But on the other hand, as a long-established settlement, drivers are accustomed to an Amish presence in the area. In new settlements like Whitefield, that is not necessarily the case.

While there are plenty of examples of a more antagonistic relationship to be found between non-Amish and Amish (especially the more conservative groups), it’s nice to see that this community seems to be working together.

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    7 Comments

    1. Al in Ky

      This is interesting information. I see that at least one family is from Swartzentruber affiliation. Is the whole community considered to be of the Swartzentruber affiliation?

      1. I am not sure Al, but I would guess that to be the case here.

    2. Debbie H

      vests vs arm bands

      I cringed every time I saw the car approach the children. I think I would invest in a vest over an armband if my community allowed it. I was able to see the children in the vests pretty far back. I can’t imagine seeing children as quickly if they wore arm bands.

    3. Maine Amish

      I live midway between the Unity/Thorndike and the Whitefield/Jefferson Amish communities. The Amish homes to my north are primarily in Thorndike, though the businesses that give visibility to Amish presence in the area are on 220 on the Unity side of the line. There are yellow buggy signs in both Jefferson and Whitefield. That community is too new to say with much certainly whether Amish businesses will choose to locate nearer Whitefield or Jefferson, but my guess is that Jefferson will attract them to open their businesses along Route 126 where summer traffic to the state park and Hidden Valley Nature Center provides greater visibility. Of course some of the Amish businesses in Thorndike, like my chainsaw dealer and a furniture maker, are located far from any busy highway, relying almost entirely on word of mouth and local Mainers providing directions to their door.

    4. KimH

      Slow it down

      I was really surprised that it doesn’t seem as if the driver slowed downuch if any when they approached the kids on scooters.
      Had that been me, I would have come to a crawl.. children aren’t always the wisest when they’re on the road.
      Scary.

    5. Alice Mary

      Yikes!

      I agree with Debbie! I know how unnerving it can be where I live, after dark, trying to see people riding bikes or walking on the road. The bigger the better (vests over armbands) for SURE! Were these kids out in the early morning, going to school? How far IS their school (assuming it’s their own Amish school, not a public school)? The less they have to be on the road in dim light is best for all. I can imagine how the Englisch residents feel, trying not to run over their new Amish neighbors!

      Good to know the state is concerned & that at least some of the Amish are accepting and using reflective devices.

      Alice Mary

    6. Sandra Kathleen

      A flag would help even more

      It definitely helps to see those on the road with the safety vests. The one boy on a scooter who wore neither the band or the vest was nearly invisible — in fact you may have missed him (near the end of the clip). However, I think a tall wand with a reflector at its top might make them even more visible — it would wave like a flag and present more of a “distraction” that would alert drivers.

      This is an issue for ALL children (and adults), Amish or not, who travel on roads via foot power. Even motor scooters can be hard to see.