Driving in Amish country: Be wary of uncommon dangers

Ohio is uniquely situated in this country physically, putting it right in the center of some of the most diverse traffic in the country. Ohio sees everything from big rigs traveling to and from the coasts to the Amish drivers in their horse-drawn buggies.

The Amish, in particular, pose dangers that many drivers simply aren't prepared to handle.

At this time of year, in particular, Ohioans tend to head into Amish country looking for unusual and handmade gifts; however, they aren't always ready for their encounters with the Amish on the road. Every year, that leads to unnecessary tragedies.

If you're heading to Amish country this year to do some holiday shopping, keep the following facts in mind:

  • Ohio has 69,000 Amish -- which is more than any other state in the country.
  • The horse-drawn buggies used by the Amish can only travel five to eight miles per hour.
  • The buggies are all marked with an orange sign indicating they are slow moving -- but only some of them have flashing lights on the rear parts of their vehicles as well.
  • Even fewer have side mirrors or other modern safety devices.
  • The rural roads in the Amish areas are often curved, dangerously narrow, unlit and hilly.
  • Buggy drivers may not have good visibility behind themselves because of the loads they are carrying.
  • The horses can be unpredictable. While most are used to being near automobiles, they can still suddenly startle -- which can lead to an accident.

While automobile drivers inevitably want to pass the buggies, it's recommended that drivers proceed with caution. Experts suggest that drivers slow down far ahead of time in order to give themselves plenty of room to handle unexpected reactions from a buggy's horse or driver.

Keep in mind that rural roads are particularly dangerous -- and there are over 120 accidents involving Amish buggies each year. If, despite your best precautions, you are injured in an accident that isn't your fault, an attorney can discuss with you your right to compensation for your injuries.

Source: The Times Leader, "Driving around Amish requires anticipation, caution," Janell Hunter, Nov. 14, 2017

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