From the Portland Press Herald:
AUGUSTA — Operators of horse-drawn buggies in Maine will be required to outfit their carriages with reflectors and lights due to a new law in the state.
The proposal is designed to improve safety on the roads in Amish communities in the state, and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed it into law on Thursday. The new law states that it applies to non-motorized, animal-drawn carriages.
One of the sponsors of the proposal, Democratic Rep. David McCrea of Fort Fairfield, says the new law is the result of numerous meetings with members of the Aroostook County Amish community. He says the law will make it safer to operate buggies, wagons and carriages at night.
While the word “reflectors” is used here, it appears that refers to white reflective tape positioned in various places on the vehicle, rather than the traditional reflectors you see on the backs of buggies in colors like red and orange.
This appears to have standardized statewide what were previously a collection of local agreements. From an earlier article on the proposed bill:
Elected officials in Whitefield and in Aroostook County have been working with Amish community leaders for several years on increasing carriage visibility while respecting the conservative and religious beliefs of the Amish. Many Amish buggies now feature reflective tape or oil lanterns as a result of those discussions and consultations with state transportation officials.
But two bills pending in the Legislature propose to replace those informal, local agreements with standardized requirements around the state.
Notably, the bill is not requiring that Amish use the SMV triangle, or electric lighting (a lantern hung from the side of the buggy is considered sufficient). There are at least two Swartzentruber communities in the state (in Aroostook County), whose members do not use either of those.
On that note, one of the bill’s sponsors, Representative David McCrea of Fort Fairfield (home to one of the Swartzentruber settlements) said that he’s “gone to extreme measures to ensure that this bill, should it become law, is supported by the Amish and is a considerable improvement in the area of traffic safety.”
For that matter it sounds like there has been good relations in working with the Amish (which is not always the case), and good will on the part of the Amish:
However, Whitefield resident Ben Zook said Tuesday evening at his family’s farm that he believes what he and his fellow Amish community members have agreed to would likely comply with the proposal offered by McCrea. Many of the Whitefield residents belong to the same, more conservative and traditional subgroup of the Amish – known as Swartzentruber Amish – as those in Aroostook County.
“What’s good for them is good for us, too,” Zook said.
Zook, who settled in Whitefield with is family last year, pointed out that many community members already have ordered second lanterns to hang on their buggies, which would go beyond McCrea’s current proposal.
“We are definitely trying to accommodate and work with them as far as the safety issues go,” Zook said.
Accidents cannot be eliminated, but hopefully this is a step that will help prevent them in future.
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