New York Towns Want State To Require Buggy Markings

According to a report by WWNYTV (unavailable), towns in the North Country region of New York are pushing for a state law requiring more visible markings on Amish buggies.

The main town featured in the video below is Dekalb. “We want to protect both the Amish and our own citizens,” said town supervisor John Frary, who has handed out a resolution to other towns to garner their support.

This is the area of Heuvelton (St. Lawrence County), home of the state’s second-largest Amish settlement, a Swartzentruber community of around 2,000 Amish.

This makes sense as the Amish here would have the most meager buggy markings of just about any in the state.

Previously, counties have handled these issues, creating agreements with their local populations of Amish.

The video shows the below agreement document as an example. A bit confusingly, De Peyster is not a county name, but that of another town in the Heuvelton area:

Maybe the agreement was a countywide one, but named after De Peyster if that is where the agreement was negotiated.

The reporter in the video says that these agreements “sometimes [have] been adhered to, but sometimes not.”

It seems that in the eyes of local authorities, the time for such free-will deals is over:

Frary’s resolution is not seeking another voluntary agreement. Instead, the resolution urges the state to change motor vehicle regulations so slow-moving buggies have to be marked the same as others.

The nearby town of Canton also is said to be considering the resolution. It’s not clear which other towns are involved in the effort.

Will it happen?

How likely is it that a statewide mandate will be enacted?

Last year saw the adoption of a statewide law requiring buggy lighting in Wisconsin, a state with a similar Amish population profile.

Is the NY legislature more or less predisposed to enact a similar measure? If this effort gains steam, we will find out.

It’s not completely clear what sort of buggy markings the supporters would want, but clearly the state’s plainest Amish communities like Heuvelton would be most affected.

I can say pretty confidently they’re not going to get the area’s Amish to adopt the traditional slow-moving vehicle triangle and electric light setup featured in the above video as one of the “better-marked buggies” on the road.

But, is there an alternative the plainest Amish would consider?

Last year, Amish in the Lodi, Ohio settlement responded to a spate of road accidents by testing an unusual array of visibility features.

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    1. Maureen

      Draft Horses

      William, if you asked me to guess, I would have said the Belgian; it is the favorite here. The my all time best ever horse was a Belgian named Martin. There are more cross breeds in this area; American cream, Percheron, Clydes, etc., and of course your outstanding Belgian. The “draft horse” – such a special, magnificant creature – the horse that loves to please. Smart too! It’s back to work tomorrow! working with two standard breds [auction] for buggies. They’re especially lucky, Abrahm’s wife Hazel makes all their horses corn bread for a treat! And Hazel makes the BEST corn bread in the Mohawk Valley! Thanks William for making the draft the best; Belgian’s are sure that!

      1. Maureen I think this comment landed on the wrong post 😉 I’m guessing you meant to share this on the Horse Progress Days post.

        1. Maureen

          Wrong Post

          Erik, it’s good to see you!

          Thank you. And yes you’re correct. Can you delete it? Someone here was kind enough to. correct it for me.

    2. Adam

      I would like to know the Amish communities opinion before I give mine. Are these folks okay with some sort of safety implement, if so, what? My brother used to live in Geauga County (his wife is from Ohio). I’m not sure I remember the markings on the buggies there (or, if they had them). A little off-topic, but for some reason, I’ve seen Amish in Pennsylvania, Iowa (the state I was born in, so it’s been a while), Ohio, and New York (I’m a little surprised Indiana isn’t on that list, given how many times I’ve been there), for some reason, the ones in New York stick out to me.

      1. Adam these are Swartzentruber Amish which generally permit only very minimal markings (usually just a certain length of reflective tape around the back outline of the buggy, plus a single lantern hung on the side). They are very resolute about this on the whole.

        Recently one group of Swartzentruber Amish (Lodi OH) adopted the unusual arrangement which I mentioned in the post above. They are the most resistant to change so this was rather remarkable.

        I wouldn’t really expect this Heuvelton group to budge much, however the Lodi example shows maybe there is an alternative that would be palatable to other Swartzentruber people (though there are different subgroups within the Swartzentrubers as well, which complicates things).

    3. Alice Mary

      Stubbornness or religious freedom?

      I have always found it ironic for Swartzentruber Amish to play the “religious freedom” card when it comes to safety and obeying (accepting) laws made by their own local or state or national governments. I recall Amish communities stating the bible says they/we are to obey the government. Yet the safety (lives) of their own people as well as those of other religions (Englisch) don’t seem to play into their reasoning at all. It seems more like outright stubbornness. Do they care about the lives of those in conveyances other than buggies? If not, why not?

      Perhaps they can find a place to move to where safety on the road isn’t important to either side. I wonder where that is?

      Alice Mary

    4. James gas

      Wow. Big Brother reigns.

      Let them alone. I realize this is the state of NY with a liberal progressive on every corner who wants to control your life…banning whole milk in school is but one example. Pass a whole bunch of laws aimed at the Amish and they will leave along with the rest of us!

    5. Amish buggy markings

      Seems to me these Amish are “cutting off their own nose to spite their face” as the saying goes. Why would anyone object to safety features that could avoid an accident and might save the lives of members of their family some night? I have visited Lancaster County, PA many times and their buggies are distinct at night, and in fact, some of the young men put extra tape or features on the back of their buggy. Car drivers in America are required to have insurance, certainly lights, licenses (car and driver), signals for turns, and a road worthy vehicle, why can’t a state require these Amish to at least adhere to reasonable regulations or, if they do not comply, keep them off the roads?

      1. Yoder in Ohio

        I’ll agree with you Nancy. My buggy is equipped with headlights, tail-lights, turning signals, two-way lights on the side, a flashing orange light in the center of the top, 4 led lights along the top of the front, an SMV emblem and reflector tape. I do this not just for my own safety but for the safety of others on the road. I do feel it would be a wise idea for all buggies to be clearly visible and i believe it is our duty to be safe. No one wants to hit a buggy and injure or kill the passengers but I also don’t want to be responsible for someone wrecking because they swerved to avoid me because they did not see me (my buggy) and cause an accident that way.

        Alice Mary made some very good points also.

    6. Nicholas


      I’m not sure what to make of Frary referring to “the Amish and our own citizens.” I’m wondering if he and others are viewing the local Amish as not a part of their community and if that has any bearing on the push for “better marked buggies.”

      1. Linda K Chaney

        Safety on the Road with buggies

        We lived in Jefferson County, NY for over twenty years and are now living in Mio, Michigan. Both areas have a significant Amish population. In NY I had a near collision on the Honey Flats Rd in Lafargeville NY. It was a moonless night and I was making a right hand turn onto Honey Flats and missed a buggy by inches as there were no markings at all on that vehicle! Can’t express the horrid feeling it gave me and it also angered me as if I hadn’t missed this buggy and killed the horse and driver this would of given me nightmares for the rest of my life. No markings is a crime as far as I’m concerned and the NY Amish community should not be allowed on the roads at dusk, dark and early dawn or when visibility is limited.
        The Michigan Amish have no such issues as their buggies are very well marked and they apparently care for their lives and ours and have taken steps to keep all safe. If the NY Amish resist than their privilege should be taken away of driving at night as they are a blatant hazard.`

        1. Jerry


          i live in jefferson county ny . i am surrounded by an amish bully from ohio . thinks because he bought land around here he can do what he wants. they move here and get an attitude like we owe them something. have come very close to hitting them as well. why is it that we cant have a single light out on our vehicles , but they dont need any . and if they get hit , the owner of the vehicle ,who is required to have insurance, registration, and a valid inspection always gets the ticket, huh. when we buy fuel ,we pay for maintenance of roads, they ruin the roads with their steel wheels. im surrounde by this guy , i cant sell or rent my house because of noisy sawmill across street. trying to get out of here like yesterday. they are just a cult ,and have lots of kids for there form of slave labor , poor kids will grow up to be just like their idiot dad.