The end of “low” Amish in Kentucky?

Here on the blog and on the Amish America Facebook page, some of you have been bringing up the court decision in Kentucky on Slow-Moving-Vehicle (SMV) triangles.  The SMV triangle has become iconic of the Amish and the vast majority of them willingly display them on their carriages.

However, some of the “lower” groups (in particular the Swartzentruber Amish and a few others) refuse to display them.

This refusal has gone back decades, and Swartzentruber Amish have ended up in court on numerous occasions over the matter (see The Amish and the State for a discussion of similar cases going back to the first time an Amishman was cited, in Orange County, Indiana in the late 1960s).  A few days ago, members of a Swartzentruber group in Graves County, Kentucky, lost an appeal over non-display of the SMV triangle.

smv triangle amish buggy kentucky
Amish buggy, sans SMV triangle, Hardin County, Kentucky

On the Graves County, KY Amish post, Al in KY and Lance exchanged comments on the issue.  Lance suggests that this could “be the end of low Amish in Ky”.  I think that is possible, though there is apparently also the possibility of a Kentucky Supreme Court challenge.

There are currently at least 3 Amish settlements in Kentucky that would count among this group (including Hardin County, Kentucky).  Amish have moved before over various conflicts with the state, such as over one-room schooling in Nebraska, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

As to the issue itself, I think when you ask “higher” Amish (ie, standard Old Order, or New Order), you will find folks critical of the Swartzentrubers and others who refuse the SMV, primarily citing safety (not only their own, but that of English drivers).

My two cents, if you want them:  on the one hand I sympathize with the idea of “leave the Amish alone”–and respect the Swartzentrubers’ sticking to principle.  Low Amish see the triangle as a worldly symbol, and feel that the issue of safety rests in large measure in God’s hands.

On the other, I tend to be swayed by the safety argument.  In lieu of the triangle, some conservative Amish display reflective tape, which I suppose approximates what the SMV triangle is meant to do.

But with the SMV triangle so recognizable and widely-used, differing from what drivers expect as the norm could cause confusion in the split seconds when a road decision must be made.  And I’m skeptical that reflective tape offers an equally-visible signal as does the bright orange triangle.  A good study of the safety aspects and comparative accident rates would be in order, if one hasn’t been done already (buggy safety studies have been conducted, but I’m not aware of one focusing on this particular issue).

For more history and background on the controversy, you can try the article “Do all Amish use the SMV triangle?”  And for more on Amish in the Bluegrass State, including the “low”, “medium”, and “high” groups, here’s the guide to Amish in Kentucky.

We’ll see what happens with this case.  But it could well be that Tennessee, Indiana, or any one of other more permissive states will be seeing an influx of conservative Amish in the not-too-distant future.

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. OldKat

      I’d tend to agree with you Erik, if I believed that the SMV triangles actually do any good to slow traffic. In my experience they do not. In fact I can’t remember the last time I even saw one of them used in the area where I live. They are required for use on slow moving vehicles in my state, and have been since the 1960’s or so. However, farmers and other people that have to put slow moving vehicles out on the roadways will tell you that virtually no one pays any attention to them. In fact I don’t think the farm supply stores; tractor dealerships etc in our area even sell them anymore. They are that big of a joke. Few shops stock them, because no one believes that they do any good.

      Instead I’d suggest putting a large sign up on the side of the road that says “Nudists just ahead”. That is about the only thing I can think of that MIGHT slow traffic down…a little. I’m only halfway kidding here. It is a tough situation. I am not making light of it. I wish they did work, but they don’t. The people that are going to slow down for a SMV will do so anyway. Those that aren’t going to will not slow down regardless what you do.

    2. Al in Ky.

      I can see both sides of the issue, and tend to agree with the
      safety side of the issue.

      However,if we’re going to be strict on all Amish using SMV signs on their buggies, wagons, etc, then maybe we need to be stricter on other road safety issues as well.

      For example: Some time ago, I was talking with a Swartzentruber Amish man in another state where there had recently
      been a serious car/buggy accident, where there were injuries
      but no fatalities. The buggy had no SMV sign, but the driver of
      the car had an alcohol level above the legal limit. He said
      the non-Amish community focused mostly on the no SMV sign as the
      cause of the accident, rather than the car driver who was under
      the influence of alcohol. So, my question would be — if we’re
      going to arrest Amish who have no SMV signs displayed, then shouldn’t we have more roadblocks that check people’s alcohol level? Because in the U.S. as a whole, aren’t vehicle drivers
      who have been drinking excessively much more prevalent and therefore much more a danger than Amish who have no SMV signs?

    3. forsythia

      As an older driver, I need all the visual aids I can get, including eyeglasses and SMV signs.

    4. Naomi Wilson

      I once drove behind a Swartzentruber buggy at dusk, and my goodness, it was hard to see. As someone who both observes the speed limit, and can’t help but swerve to avoid squirrels and turtles, I think something akin to hazard lights, plus reflectors should be required for all slow moving vehicles, Amish or no. I am all for personal liberty (especially when it comes to issues like raw milk ; ), but when you drive a vehicle on the road, you are putting more than just yourself at risk. I can’t imagine living with the guilt of having hurt or killed a horse-drawn family, just because I wasn’t expecting to come across them on a dark night.

    5. Orange County, Indiana

      Erik, our Amish here in Orange County, Indiana still do not use the orange triangles. This has been up for recent debate again, since an accident not too long ago. The county and one of the Amish men have talked and the county says even if they make it a law they can’t enforce it because of the religion aspect. The Amish have agreed to change the small strips of reflective tape they use on the back of their buggies more frequently, as it dulls pretty quick. Even Amish in some neighboring counties use the triangles, but not here.

    6. BethR

      That’s tricky, but it’s sort of, “When in Rome…” – if they’re using the public highway, there are rules for that whether they like it or not. It’s in God’s hands if we all get hurt in an accident but the law is to wear a seatbelt so we do. Plus it’s for the safety of non-Amish as well.

    7. Jessica

      What about battery powered flashing yellow lights? Would the Amish accept those?

    8. Katie Troyer

      If they would only know that the SMV in and of itself is not evil, they could see the common sense in using one.

    9. Battery Powered Lights

      Orange County, Indiana Amish use only small gas lanterns on their buggies at night. Even knowing how many are around here and constantly watching for them, you are almost upon them before you realize they’re there at night. I’m just thankful there aren’t more accidents around here.

    10. Richard

      I really think they should have some sort of reflective device on the back of their buggies, so its not about the shape of the device, its about the reflective nature of it. So in my opinion they are going to start using these smv signs even though they wont like it. The safety is really about night travel for me as most of these buggies are either black or grey. I see around my way some Amish go all the way with lots of reflectors all around the sides and back of their buggies, sometimes safety must trump beliefs for the better good of all. To help some of the Swartzentrubers’ accept the idea they could change the shape of the reflective signs to say a horse or cow shape, something bright orange and reflective. The state wouldn’t have to do that though, and most likely wouldn’t. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon

    11. I understand the desire to stay true to one’s beliefs. So where does one draw the line concerning safety? I lean toward using the SMV because it isn’t an issue just for the Amish – it affects other drivers and citizens too.

    12. Magdalena

      That seems a bit fatalistic and even Calvinist of the Swartzentruber Amish; maybe they need a theological conference. Seriously, here we have old railroad rights of way converted to recreational trail. You can get anywhere in the province on them. It is not yet an issue here, but if another Amish community should wish to establish itself in New Brunswick, and for the use of those of us who would prefer to convert to horse power, I’d say those trails could be designated for slow moving traffic only – bicycles, buggies, and foot. This is what they were meant to be before the ATV/snowmobile lobby got into it.

    13. Robin


      We have recently had an Amish family move in near us and they do not use the orange triangle or anything else, day or night. Even knowing that Amish families live around here and being careful, especially at night, you are practically on top of them before you realize the black buggy is there in the dark. It is a disaster waiting to happen. Normally I am a live-and-let-live kind of person but I don’t know how I could handle seriously injuring or killing a family or even their horse because I couldn’t see them in the dark.

    14. TomK

      I have a feeling they’re going to do whatever they feel the need to do, which could include all of them up-rooting and moving or some of them while the others stay and fight or some moving and others staying and putting signs on their buggies and starting a new church congregation.

    15. Christina

      We have a hard enough time out here in WA seeing cars in the rain–especially gray cars that blend in with the blacktop and the gray weather with no lights on! (one of my husband’s biggest pet peeves) I can’t imagine coming up on a black buggy at night seemingly out of nowhere. Even if a car is going slower, a fatal accident can occur.

      The thing is, I could say that I believe wearing a seat belt is against my religion and my life is in God’s hands, but I’d still get fined for not wearing my seat belt and I don’t think that argument would hold up in court. I’m not being a good steward of the life that God gave me if I don’t at least take certain precautions.

    16. Kevin Lindsey

      Im inclined to agree with Beth R. It is a rule of the road, for the overall common good and for safety. Buggies tangle with cars far too often even when they are marked to the detriment of the buggy and its occupants, I cant imagine how much more that would increase without any markings. And if life is a sacred gift, as I believe, then taking simple steps to protect that gift seems only right.

    17. Leave them alone

      It’s not a matter of risk or safety, not when you break their belief to its essence. It’s a matter of the Low Amish being left alone to practice their beliefs as they see fit. I’m firmly against the state on this. The Low Amish have always been willing to accept the costs in lives and property damage liability, and they have existed to this point without the SMV signs. It’s not a matter of whether it makes sense to the rest of us. It’s a matter of the right to be left alone. I hope they appeal this and win.

    18. English safety?

      Ira, I’m sort of with you on this, but…what do you say to the English driver who swerves to avoid a poorly-marked buggy and ends up in the ditch–or plowing into a tree? By some of the comments above it looks like people are experiencing close-enough calls.

      Sure it is true that buggies usually come out losers in road incidents, but it’s not only Amish safety at stake.

      I’ve never really gotten the sense that this factors into the calculus for lower groups.

    19. Alice Mary

      Like it or not, we're ALL at risk

      As others here have stated, if English OR Amish are using the same road, (and it’s certainly common knowledge that the English have had control of the roads in this country for centuries), then both are at risk for accidents, and both should be expected to protect the other’s safe passage. Like it or not, we are all living together on this earth. None of us wants to harm the other (at least, that’s how most of us feel, anyway). It’s simple common courtesy to “be kind to one another” by not endangering the other. There are English who disobey speed limits, and I know the Amish aren’t without fault (obviously). If you are here (as in, alive and on this earth), you cannot expect to be left completely alone, no matter what you think your “right” is.(“No man is an island.” Not sure who said that, first…) The only way to be truly “left alone” is to become deceased, and I don’t see the Amish committing mass suicide, or putting themselves in harms way by walking in the middle of a busy highway to “let God decide” who should live or die that day. It seems some Amish don’t care about the feelings of the English who may literally run into them and cause harm or death…as so many here have stated (they’d be devastated if they caused an accident/injury/death if they ran into a SMV because they couldn’t see it for lack of markings). I (and my husband and adult children) know to slow down when approaching a marked SMV. We still have farming (and construction) going on in our area, and are cognizant of SMV’s.

      That some Amish accept this simple safety measure while others are vehemently against it just shows how differently their different sects “think” when it comes to what “their” God expects of them. Could it be that some are just plain more stubborn than others, since I suppose they feel they worship the “same” God? Isn’t that in itself a form of pridefulness?

    20. Forest

      I have the SMV triangle on my farm equipment, and altho no one has hit me yet, I’m not sure it makes a lot of difference. Now, none of my tractors is grey or black and I don’t drive them at night either.

      My position would be that the triangles should be used by any SMV out of consideration for the folks who share the road with them.

      Just my two cents.

      Forest in NC

    21. moo mom

      I have been in a horse and wagon accident at night. I am not Amish but my family has horses that we use recreationally. We were traveling at night and we had an smv triangle. The truck that hit us left skid marks 125 ft long. He said he saw the triangle but was confused by what it was. The skid marks also swerved to us (we were on the shoulder of the road) But I can say we would have faired much worse probably if we did not have the smv sign. For safety sake they should use the smv. God gives us the tools we need sometimes to take care of ourself. I think the triangle would be conseiderd one of those tools.

    22. Loretta


      Erik, when an accident happens between a horse and buggy and a vehicle, and the Amish are cited to be at fault, being they don’t carry insurance as we do, how would we get them to pay for damage to our vehicles, medical bills, etc? Surely, not through the no-fault law?

    23. Loretta, good question, but if it were established that Amish were at fault, I don’t think you’d have a lot of trouble getting them to assume responsibility. They pay for their own losses and bills either individually or with community help and I expect that they would not shirk the obligation to do the same for an accident they caused.

    24. Marcus Yoder

      You would think a bicycle would need a smv sign also.

      Marcus Yoder

    25. loretta

      I’m sure that in the case of an accident that they were at fault, they would do the honest thing and make things right as far as they could. I guess I was thinking, in the case where there are several injured people, or long hospital stays, surgeries, etc. Does anyone know?

    26. Lindsay

      Bicycles typically have reflectors…but even then they are hard to see. A lot of cyclists I know who commute have lights, reflective vests etc. I always get upset when I see someone cycling at night w/o regard of their personal safety or that of others.

      I have to respectfully disagree with Ira. We all live on this earth, and we all share the road…as much as the Swartzentrubers try they can never completely isolate themselves from society at large. Sometimes we have to make compromises for the good of everyone, whether it be on the road or in other areas of life. The right for this group to practice their beliefs as they see fit should not trump the safety of other people who live and travel through the area. In my opinion, it is a slippery slope when you continue making concessions to a certain religious group based on their beliefs despite evidence of such practice being harmful and/or dangerous to themselves and others.

      I’m not an expert, but would I be correct understanding that the Low Amish likely hire drivers less often than higher orders? Perhaps if they stepped into the shoes of the English in this case, they would have a better understanding of why SMV triangles are important?

    27. Lance

      I have been struggling to know how to respond to this.

      What I see is that there is a huge difference in opinion as to what it means to trust God and believe that His will is always done. My experience with a low Amish group leaves me believing that a SMV symbol is a frivolous attempt at trying to change God’s will. And I cannot do that. My trust in God accepts His will for me to the point that I find SMV to be an affront to Him. I accepted that it was possible that my buggy would be hit and I accepted that if it happened, that was God’s will. I would be sorry for the car driver in the accident too, and would pray for him/her/them, but I was/am not going to change my beliefs to appease those with differing beliefs. I accepted the risk of accident as part of the Christian life.

      There is no way I can convey the depth of faith the Amish have in their doctrines. Attempts at change from the outside are to be especially resisted. Forcing the SMV symbol on those that have rejected it would be like forcing them to reject their faith. History has shown that Amish will usually just quietly leave the area where gov’t forces things on them that they refuse to accept. I believe if the KY Supreme Court upholds the appeals court, the Amish that reject SMV symbols will simply leave KY. I don’t think that the Graves Co or Sonora/Upton communities are old or big enough to have Amish that will just accept the SMV symbol. The Horse Cave/Park City group is bigger and older, some might stay and adopt the symbol instead of uprooting their lives. I don’t know if the very conservative Scottsville buggy group has the symbols or not, so they maybe at risk too.

      If I offend you, I am sorry. I am just living my faith in God. We plain people just do not accept the world and its ways.

    28. Debbie Welsh

      I agree with the majority of you here … they must abide by the same rules as anyone else when it comes to safety.

    29. What specifically is wrong with the orange SMV triangle?


      I really appreciate you taking the time to explain your beliefs on this, especially as someone who has had the experience you’ve had with a conservative group.

      I don’t think you offend anyone by stating your faith here–I respect you for doing it. And on that note maybe you could help me understand something that I have wondered about but have never seemed to find a satisfactory answer for.

      What specifically about the SMV triangle do conservative groups find offensive? Is it the bright color? Unnatural shape? Size? The fact that it is plastic, or mass-produced by machines?

      For those groups that use silver reflectorized tape but not the orange triangle, why would that be considered different? And were an SMV triangle to be constructed of the same silver material, and of the same color (a few groups do use a grey/silverish triangle) would that be acceptable?

      And why would hanging a lantern on the side of a buggy, like most Swartzentruber Amish do, not be an attempt to change God’s will?

      I am not challenging you but rather trying to bring out and understand the differences here. I appreciate any thoughts you can share.

    30. Lance

      The SMV symbol is a worldly symbol, with a bold color (not plain), that says you don’t trust God to protect you. Kinda sums it up, I think. All three elements of what I said are important to the issue.

      I have seen the black triangles with the reflective silver border and red reflector in the middle. I discussed this issue years ago with my best Amish friend, and suggested that these black/silver symbols would be an option if it ever came to a head. He just shook his head, said no and if forced to have even that, he would just move away. Even out of the country, if necessary. This is an example of the depth of faith I referred to in the previous comment.

      On the forced change issue, the Amish themselves do not challenge their traditions. Indeed, that is the nature of the doctrine of ‘gelassenheit’ or yieldedness. You do not challenge traditions, doctrines, rituals, behaviors, or the ministry. If you cannot ‘yield’ to this, it really is best that you move on, much to the heartache of your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins to the nth degree. So, if the outside wants to force Amish change, the outside is really challenging Amish faith and traditions. Hence the resistance of the low Amish to change, particularly from the outside. Forced change is a challenge to their faith. So they leave instead giving up that faith.

      Wow, all this is challenging me and who I am. You people are showing me who I am and who I am not. I may have to do something about it too.

    31. Lindsay

      I don’t think anyone is or should be offended by what you have to say Lance. Thank you for taking the time to explain the low Amish point of view…I think it’s perhaps very difficult for the average non-Amish person to understand how they view their faith, as much as I think it’s hard for them to understand ours at times.
      I still respectively disagree, but I’m glad I have a bit more background now on why the SMV triangle is an issue with the more conservative groups.

    32. God's will and the SMV triangle

      My thanks as well Lance. What I gather from your comment and that of your friend is that the problem is both the color and the shape, which have both contributed to it being considered worldly (probably in addition to some other factors I’d imagine, like its long association with “higher” Amish).

      I do take a respectfully skeptical view of the argument against changing God’s will or not trusting God to protect you. If that is the case, why bother with hanging a lantern off the back?

      I also think the God’s will argument can be taken to an extreme to the point that it paralyzes any action whatsoever. It seems like it would lead to one trying to pre-determine what God’s will might be in relation to any action one might take. The less charitable view might be that it is presumptuous and even prideful because it seems to assume knowing what God’s will might be, but I don’t take that view myself.

      But I also sense that with Swartzentruber and other low groups there is more an apprehension of change in general, any change. As you know the list of technology accepted by lowest groups over the last 50 or even 100 years would be a short one.

      Additionally the SMV triangle has a history of being a sticking point with court cases and fines. Knowledge of that very history–that track record of resistance to it established by predecessors–seems like it would further reinforce resistance to the triangle, or any variation of the triangle.

      Again, I am just giving my straight thoughts on this, so I hope you don’t take offense at anything I’ve written here. I find it a very interesting topic and your comments have been enlightening.

    33. Lance

      This issue is providing a great example of the thoughts and values differences between the Amish and the non-Amish. I’ll just say we will have to have different opinions on the matter. I think we can see why so few people go Amish in the end. Low Amish values, thoughts, ways of thinking, traditions and faith are very different than that of the ‘world’.

      It has been a thought provoking discussion.

    34. With every freedom comes a responsibility. No car drivers have use of the roads paid for by all without obeying the rules of the road, so why should buggy drivers be allowed to use the road and ignore all safety precautions? In my opinion, the Amish should be choosing their issues — the triangle is a trivial issue. If the government were to outlaw buggies because of safety issues, then perhaps they would have an issue. Having said this, I don’t believe the triangle is going far enough. There is a huge difference in how visible buggies are from one community to another. When I was in Shipshewana, Indiana, I was appalled at how hard it was to see the buggies at night… and this in a “high” Amish group. In Geauga County, Ohio, the Amish have adopted LED lights, both flashing in the back and “headlights” in the front and there is reflector tape outlining the back of the buggy… in flat places, one can see a buggy from a mile away. Now it is up to car drivers to take the proper precautions and slow down.

      I once had an experience in my old neighborhood that outlines the issue by taking the Amish beliefs out of the equation. I was backing out of my driveway — I’d looked both ways, but at the height of cars or someone walking. I was ready to back up, but intuition told me to look again… partly because I noticed a mother walking her baby in a stroller, and I knew she had two other children. Lo and behold, right behind my back tires, was a little toy car, driven by a five-year-old, and she had stopped right behind my back tire, barely visible in my rear-view mirror. Her little sister was in the “passenger” seat. Had I backed up, and hit those two little towheads, I would have felt guilty for the rest of my days, and probably had nightmares about it, too. And yet none of it would have been my fault…

      This is the side people don’t take into account when they hear of a buggy accident, in which someone was hurt or killed. What about the person who was driving responsibly, and could not avoid the accident, simply because he or she could not see the buggy? That is as tragic for the car driver as it is for the people who were hurt — how does one recover from such a thing? Sure, the Amish would forgive you, but could you forgive yourself? I know I would be saying “If only….” for the rest of my life. By chalking everything up to God’s Will, we are not taking into account our own will and our sense of responsibility. In my mind acting responsibly is bringing our own will into alignment with God’s.

    35. loretta

      low amish

      I must have missed where the definition of “low amish” was explained. I think I have it figured out, but would you explain it to be sure?

    36. Lance

      Low Amish are the conservative Amish, while high Amish are the progressives

    37. Al in Ky.

      In today’s (7/3/11) issue of the Louisville Courier-Journal
      newspaper on page B-1, there was an article that stated the
      Graves County Amish men are appealing thier convictions in 2008 to the Kentucky Supreme Court for failing to display the slow-moving vehicle sign on their buggies. It states that “the men’s lawyers filed the appeal Thursday (6/30/11) with the Kentucky Supreme Court, asking the justices to rule that the state’s constitution grants greater religious freedoms than its U. S. counterpart.”

    38. Lance


      Thanks for the update! I hope this court reads law, without forcing activism on people who just want live their faith.

    39. Barb

      Concerning the “leave the Amish alone to do their own thing” way of thinking. When they choose to drive on a public road, then I believe they should be required to obey the laws of said road. If they do not wish to obey the laws, then they do not “have” to drive on the road. By not obeying the law, they are giving up their right to drive on the public road. They can drive on private fields and farm lanes — doing their own thing on their own property within their own community with no impact on others. Every driver on a public road must follow the laws written, and the Amish should be no different. They are not being required to “wear” a bright color. In order for their vehicle to be considered “road safe”, it must have a triangle, just as my car must have a state inspection sticker. I am not allowed to drive my car without my headlights on, or without seatbelts on. It’s not a “religion” issue. They choose to live in the US — therefore they should be expected to and should expect to obey the laws when they travel on public roads.

    40. Lance

      To jail they go

      The Amish men in KY have chosen to go to jail rather then pay fines for refusal to violate their religion.

      So, KY persecutes conservative Amish. I want to go to KY and volunteer to help the families while these men are held in jail.

      Please revive the constitution in America.

    41. Tom

      Dont Know

      This is truly sad for the Amish families. However, I remain torn on this issue. I certainly can understand conservative Amish holding true to their beliefs. But also being a person who resides in a Old Order Amish community I am thankful they do utilize the triangle. On dark nights this triangle is very helpful to me as a driver. Safety is important to all members of the road.

    42. Valerie

      Not Sure it Qualifies as Religious Persecution

      It’s just hard for me to see it that way. I feel sorry for them thinking that is what it is. If I KNEW the Amish in our area would stay off the roads at night (we have Swartzentrubers) then people wouldn’t be nervous about driving the dark country roads, in fear of hitting an almost invisible buggy. It’s not right for people to have to live with a possible consequence of that.

      My question is, what happens when they get out of jail, and again get stopped without the triangle, assuming they won’t abide by the law? Will this just keep cycling?

    43. Karen

      Reframe the question

      I used to live near the Amish in Chautauqua County, NY, and I know they’ve had buggy/vehicle troubles ther,e too. What I wonder, when this community looks at the triangles as worldly and not put trust in God, can the question be reframed in a way that they can support? I’ve thinking along the lines of “loving your neighbor.” The triangle is not a safety question for the Amish, but one for the English: By using it, they are protecting Englishers who may not understand the buggy and the Englishers needed to be alerted to use caution. By using it, they are helping their neighbors who are unfamiliar with how to drive when there is a buggy on the road. Perhaps someone who is more familiar with the community could borrow that idea and present it in such a way as both the Amish community and the neighboring community can agree on it?

      I’ve been reading this website for a while and hope that a comment from this newbie isn’t going to be out of place. Thanks.

    44. Alice Mary

      The wisdom of Solomon!

      Karen, that’s a great idea. I was trying to think “out of the box” for some sort of equitable solution, but I guess I didn’t think far enough! Your idea sounds promising. (Are you an arbitrator by profession? A social worker? You don’t have to answer! It just crossed my mind.)

      Now, if only the Bishops, etc., could “embrace” your idea! Fingers crossed!

      Alice Mary

      1. Karen

        Mary Alice, you flatter me! I’m not an arbitrator, but I have been a newspaper editor and a campus minister, so finding the workable solution has been part of my job description!

        I hope the bishops can come to a similar conclusion. While it’s always tempting for any person to see a problem from their point of view, their beliefs and needs, it’s just as important to look from the other direction (and it is frightening to come up quickly on a buggy in the dark! I’ve done it). Englishers don’t want to hit them and cars and drivers can be badly damaged/hurt in a buggy accident too. That point of view might help them with this problem.

        Fingers crossed!


    45. Marlene Brubaker

      bright colors, triangles, faith, and God's will

      My first neighbors were Amish. I have good memories of visiting them, until they were no more, they moved to Mexico, on account of their son coming of age for the Vietnam War Draft. When the government asks you to do something you object to, it is a long standing Anabaptist tradition to get up and go, and find a place where your beliefs will be tolerated, or at least ignored. As a former Mennonite, I am challenged by that belief system, looking back to the acts of the last 12 generations of my family, wondering how much could have been accomplished if there had been more action, more confrontation, more speaking truth to power, less ‘running away’ from our problems. Did we miss the opportunity to intervene in the horror of slavery? of mass removals of Native Americans off their lands which conveniently are now tilled by the ‘quiet in the land?’ We of European favor, even in the midst of our great devotion to God, as we know him, have still missed our opportunity to be a witness to His will. Am I not my brother’s keeper? Do I not have a duty to look out for the safety of my neighbors? If I cloak myself in dark colors, hiding myself from detection, and my ‘invisibility’ is undetected by my neighbor until it is too late, how dare we say it is God’s will that the accident happened? If you have the ability and the power to prevent accidents, and you willingly choose to ignore the wisdom that God has provided for you, ie. bright orange reflecting triangles will be detected better than the black nonreflecting surface of my buggy, what does that really say about your relationship with God. Has ‘tradition’ not become on level or worse yet paramount to scripture? Is this not exactly the reason that we left the Catholic church in the 16th century? I see a full circle of irony in this case.

    46. T.J

      Amish In Graves County SMV signs

      I would agree that the SMV signs are for safety. But, I have to say that the misuse of the SMV sign in this area should be addressed also. If they are going to cite the Amish into court then they need to cite the tobacco farmers and those who misuse the SMV sign. Like marking the driveways with them. This give you a false reaction. If you are driving at dusk or dark and see a reflective SMV sign then you tend to SLOW DOWN. Not true here when so many misuse them. Then there is the tractor that has a SMV sign on it and is being hauled on a trailer at 60 mph. Another misuse. The Amish have 109 inches of reflective tape that will light up at night and the triangle is only 79 inches. So, I’m not saying that it isn’t right but if they are going to target the Amish they need to have laws against the MISUES of the Triangle.

    47. Al in Ky.

      In the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper today, 10/31/11, there
      was an article that stated there were four Amish people in
      Logan County, Kentucky, who are facing charges for refusing to
      put the SMV emblems on their buggies. Their court hearing was to
      be held today in Auburn, Ky. Does anyone know if these Amish
      are Swartzentruber Amish or are they simply very conservative
      Old Order Amish?

      Now Amish in Logan County join Amish in Graves County and
      Grayson County, Ky. who have been in the news recently for
      similar charges. I really would like to know more about the
      history of this issue. When was the law enacted in Ky. that
      required the use of SMV? Have Amish in these counties been
      arrested in past years and we just haven’t heard about it? If
      not, what is causing it to be an issue at the present time?
      Are these Amish arrested when they travel on streets in town
      or on country roads or both?

    48. Lance

      Here we go again

    49. Cindy Bushnell

      Another option?

      I drive to work nightly through Amish country and often encounter buggies. Though rare, accidents involving buggies do occur in our area. When I heard of this case, I thought of the solution I had come to for myself (I prefer to drive less than the posted speed.) Please forgive if my suggestion is intrusive or ignorant. There is a company that offers reflective tape which, during the day, does not show its reflective aspect but appears only black. My thought is that it might be an acceptable alternative to both parties in this conundrum. The tape could be applied in such a way that it would reflect as a triangle at night, but would be invisible during the day, thus would not be ‘flashy’ or showy. I do not know if that would address the ‘trinity’ issue. Would it be obtrusive of me to send this suggestion directly to the Amish in Graves County? The company head has offered to send a sample free of charge for their consideration.

      1. Lance


        It is highly probable that these Amish are already using this grey reflective material. In Ashland, OH and Stanwood, MI, Amish already have triangles made of this material, so it is probable that these other Amish have been exposed to your idea. You can see this type of triangle in Erik’s post on buggies here:

        and here

        It is impossible to completely know if these Amish have those reflective strips without going there and inspecting the buggies, but if they don’t, it would be the first community I have heard of to not have them.

        1. cindy bushnell


          In our area, the Amish use the orange triangle, flashing lights on the back, and a row of red reflectors down each side of the back. Mostly, I would like to know if I would, in my ignorance, be intrusive or pushy by suggesting this to the fellows in jail in Kentucky. I desire not to offend.

    50. Lance

      It is not offensive to ask, just to flame others opinions(or facts). Virtually all of those Amish know about the triangle, reflectors and flashing lights, etc. that are used by other Amish. They continue to reject them as items of the world. Many of these people have relatives in these other Amish orders so they know what they do (somewhat). In the Holmes Co, OH area, these SMV rejectors live right next to other Amish orders with electricity, cell phones, phone shacks, and any number of other ‘worldly’ things. So, in general, they know. They just reject the progress of the main stream of Amish religion. There are many, many divisions amongst these people over seemingly minor details. Makes them both fascinating and irritating!

      1. Cindy Bushnell

        Thank you Lance.

        I’ll follow the prompt I’m feeling. Nothing ventured…. It seems an unnecessary loss for people to be injured or die for attachment to form over spirit.