SMV Law Changed for Kentucky Amish

Conflict over the SMV safety triangle, which has seen numerous Amish sent to jail in Kentucky, has ended.

Governor Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 75 into law yesterday.  The new law allows reflective tape to be substituted for the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem.  Amish reaction from the AP story (no longer online):

Atlee Miller, an Amish farmer from Franklin, said he appreciates the help from the state’s politically powerful to provide an exemption, but he said the credit really goes to a higher power.

“The man above has got control,” Miller said. “We thank him most of all.”

Amish Buggy LanternBuggies of the most conservative Amish in Kentucky will be outlined (backs and sides) in white or silver reflective tape, and will carry tape on the front left corner.

They will also display lanterns in a staggered arrangement (one a foot higher than the other).  Amish had begun implementing the new standards even before the law was changed.

It would be interesting to see a study in five years on how this affects accident rates.

Amish buggy lantern photo credit: Tom

Read more: Do all Amish use the Slow Moving Vehicle triangle?

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    23 Comments

    1. Kevin Lindsey

      While I still think the SMV triangle is the best idea, Im glad that KY respected their religious views and that they wont be thrown in jail anymore. At least both parties have agreed to some type of safety markings. I agree that it will be interesting to see how they prove out in the long run.

    2. Ky Amish Friend

      SMV Triangles.

      Well, the SMV triangles are misused so bad in this area that no one pays attention to them. They are marking sewers, gates, and driveways. That is illegal also but there aren’t any tickets given for the misuse of the triangle. Sad that they gave the tickets to those Amish over a religious belief but not the everyday joe blow for misusing them. Glad that the Governor signed SB 75 for the Amish.

      1. Roberta

        Selective law enforcement

        That is true around here, too. I have seen the triangles marking driveways, etc. Just one of many cases of selective law enforcement.

        For example, one of our neighbors refused to install smoke detectors on religious grounds. Another neighbor bought smoke detectors, finished construction and they are still sitting in the boxes they came in. Guess which one is in trouble with the codes officer?

    3. Dena

      I just don’t see the difference between using the triangles vs. the reflective tape. Seems like using the tape the way it’s supposed to be used IS the best idea but since they are ok with one method, what was wrong with the other?

      1. Why is tape okay and not the triangle?

        The issue is/was the triangle, which these Amish object to on the grounds of it being a worldly symbol, too bright, and reminiscent of the Trinity.

        The tape is less gaudy and essentially “shapeless” so that basically eliminates the above objections.

        The only thing I cannot square is the argument about trusting in God…it seems like if that was your stance, even applying tape and hanging lanterns would betray a lack of trust.

        All said, I am glad a resolution has been found. Some have commented that the safety tape when applied in this manner is even more effective than the triangle (for instance, it’s visible when descending hills and only the top of the buggy can be seen, whereas the triangle alone is not) and I hope that is the case.

        1. Erik, I’m a little late (2 yrs. (ha)) getting involved in this discussion, but just this past week I was visiting with a tour guide in an Amish area that said that in some of the more strict/culturally-conservative Amish groups that orange is consider to be the devil’s color. I have no way of validating that with a second source (which I typically like to do), but the man has spent over half-a-century living with the Amish, so have no reason to question his knowledge.

          1. Amish consider orange the color of the devil?

            Don, no need to apologize–these threads stay open and am happy to revisit. I think from more traditional Amish especially you sometimes hear such bold language regarding things of the world being of the devil (in a symbolic sense representing or embodying the devil, more than just being something “of the world”).

            For instance, a few years ago Amish in Michigan objected to a gov’t requirement to attach radio devices to cows, referring to them as “a mark of the Beast”. In a controversy over smoke detectors, an Amishman referred to the device as a “devil on the wall”. https://amishamerica.com/amish-smoke-alarms/
            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/3473461/Amish-sue-US-government-for-mark-of-the-Beast-on-livestock.html

            As far as the color itself being the color of the devil, I’m trying to recall/find something supporting that in our previous discussions here.

            I’ve more often heard it painted as objectionable because it is bold and worldly, rather than a specific association as *the* color of the devil. Maybe by extension the color, since it is such a bright reddish orange, is associated with the devil. It may very well be the case for some Amish. I’d be glad to hear from anyone with a better “low” Amish perspective on this.

            1. Oh, I hadn’t made the connection there that you did — I’d taken “of the devil” on the more literal side, but maybe it was meant in a more figurative (worldly) sense. Works for me.

              Question: Is “low Amish” just your own term, or is it a generally accepted term for I presume you to mean as those that are generally more strict and/or less technology-accepting relative to the average Amish culture?

              1. It is the generally-used term, not mine. “Low” and “High” are both used.

    4. Carol

      Seat belts

      So are there seat belts in buggies? Car seats for children?

    5. Lance

      I am so very glad that KY has done this for the Amish there. I hope now that the law enforcement will drop the charges for ‘violations’ prior to the law being passed.

      Thank you Kentucky legislatures. To God be the Glory for blessing your children.

    6. Ky Amish Friend

      No seat belts or car seats, try to start some more stuff Carol, I don’t see them complaining about your loud gas guzzling car. Why not leave them alone. Try picking on someone else. They don’t go out and find things to complain about that we do. You won’t find them ridiculing us for our choices and decisions.

      1. Why the assumption that Carol is trying to “start some stuff” based on what look to be no more than 2 legitimate questions.

        One of my least favorite things about blog comments on the net in general is this seeming need by some people to flip to a combative tone at the drop of a hat.

        If you’ve been reading the comments on this site for awhile, you know we try to keep it friendly, so I’d appreciate you taking a breath before going personal, KY Amish friend.

        Carol, thank you for the questions–there may be examples to the contrary, but I’ve never heard of seat belts being used in Amish buggies–I believe it has to do with the physics of it–the thinking that if hit, it is better to be thrown from the flimsy carriage than crushed inside. My Amish friends own car seats and use them primarily when riding in cars, with little ones typically riding on laps in buggies. Like Dena says below the baby-style “seat” can be useful in other situations though, as a way to carry an infant.

    7. Dena

      Actually Ky Amish Friend, some amish DO utilize car seats for the babies. And some may actually install belts in their buggies in the less conservative groups. Attacking Carol was uncalled for.

    8. Al in Ky.

      I’m thankful there seems to be a resolution to this issue, at
      least for the time being, and I pray for Amish and non-Amish
      safe travel on the road. You’ve done a good job of keeping
      us posted of all of the developments around this issue every
      step of the way, Erik.

    9. I’m glad all parites have come to an understanding. If we patiently wait and gather all information before we come to a conclusion the world would be a much better place.

      AMEN!

    10. Katrina

      Kentucky Question

      Are the charges going to be dismissed against those who were arrested for not complying with the original law?

      1. KY Amish record

        Good question Katrina, I do not know, Lance was wondering the same. I guess you can’t give the time back especially if that was existing law at the time. I am skeptical they would say compensate for the time served, though perhaps they could strike the offense from their records?

    11. Ed

      Preferential treatment of a Relegion?

      Some how this seems like a violation of the first Amendment of the Us Constitution! The government shall not give preferential treatment to a religion! Why should I have to have a Slow moving vehicle sign on my tractor and they do not have to have one on their buggy? The Slow Moving Vehicle sign (SMV) catches your attention at night, this is a SAFETY issue. That is being able to see the buggy at a distance, not when you get to close to the buggy that you have to swing into the oncoming lane to avoid hitting the buggy, but what if there is a vehicle coming, now you are looking at a head on collision. Why is this against their religion? Their common answer in court cases is that it means that they are putting their faith in man rather than GOD. If that is the case, then why do they go to Doctors? Next time you see a buggy without a SMV sign, ask him WHY? When he says ” it is against our religion” Ask WHY? The odds are he will not have an answer. The SMV sign is a SAFETY devise and if is used for other things it should reported. So when driving in Amish areas at night, will you be the next person to face a head on collision because of a buggy?

      1. Ed, I doubt that I will answer your question to your satisfaction, but hopefully I can. If not, well at least others might be able to find a reasonable answer in this.

        The government is not here giving pref. treatment to one religion over another — or at least I presume that you driving your tractor is not a religious experience for you. Whether we agree with the “whys” or not, some Amish find this to be religiously offensive. As such, the laws make allowances for handling this in a different way — i.e., there is room for legitimate exceptions that would not apply to the same thing in non-religious instances. Is it a safety concern? – yes, for those in the buggies, but not so much for the rest of us. As such, it’s like wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle — it’s a bit crazy not to do it, but a person is not endangering anyone but himself when he goes without it so give him the freedom to make a crazy choose if he wants.

        But bottom line is that this is an exception-for-one’s-religion that is a fundamental aspect of our Constitution from it’s earliest days. Not any preferential treatment, for it’s offered to all. Although it has been corrupted in more recent years, this was to establish that a person’s real and legitimate religious rights are never to be superseded by civil law or officials. And that is what we have seen played out in this instance.

    12. Hello! I’m from Russia. Christian. How can I join the Amish?