If you’ve never encountered a horse-drawn buggy before, encountering one on the road may be startling to say the least. And if you’ve never shared the road with one before, trying to pass them safely may be even more difficult.
There is often a lack of education for both automobile and buggy drivers on proper road safety. As slow moving vehicles, buggies are often considered an inconvenience and aren’t given the same considerations as a slow-moving car or truck. But buggies must follow certain safety rules, and so do other drivers who share the road with them.
Maintain a Safe Driving Distance
A buggy has the same rights as any other vehicle on the road. However, they go very slowly, sometimes at a fraction of the speed of traffic. In addition, some horses can easily become spooked and may pull a buggy into traffic if startled by a loud engine or horn from an aggressive or impatient driver.
Two cars moving at highway speeds don’t need as much distance between them to brake safely. However, a moving car needs much more time and a larger distance to safely brake for a slow-moving buggy.
When approaching a buggy, make sure to slow down to maintain a safe distance. If you are driving on unfamiliar country roads at night, it is better to reduce your speed and make sure you are fully awake so you can be as prepared as possible for any buggies or other country traffic.
Obviously it is a lot easier to slow down for buggies when you can actually see them coming. Buggy drivers must also make sure their buggies are equipped with the required markers and lighting, some of which is required by law.
Improving Visibility at Night
Headlights and brake lights make it easy to see other drivers on busy roads at night. Thanks to your lights, any buggies you pass will be able to see you coming. But you might not be able to see the buggy.
Most Indiana Amish drive black or mostly black buggies. The dark coloring combined with poor lighting on country roads where most Amish live, can make buggies very hard to spot for other drivers. And because buggies move so much slower and weigh so much less than a car, accidentally coming upon one on a dark road can be disastrous.
Indiana state law requires buggies to use four-way flashers when driving on roads between sunset and sunrise. The flashing red and amber lights should also be used in times of low visibility or insufficient light (like during heavy rain, snow, fog, or heavily overcast days), and while driving through heavy traffic.
In addition, a slow moving vehicle symbol must be displayed on the back of every buggy. The triangular reflective symbol must be fully visible and unobstructed by license plate stickers or tape.
To help with nighttime visibility and road safety, some buggies also use reflective tape, blinkers, and turn signals.
How to Safely Pass a Buggy
Buggies have the same rights as any other motor vehicles. If you overtake a buggy on a two-lane country road, you would follow the same passing rules as if you were passing any other slow moving vehicle.
- Approach with caution and watch for any hand signals.
- Wait until you are in a passing zone and the left lane is clear of traffic.
- Do not pass on hills or curves where oncoming traffic is obscured.
- Use your turn signals to indicate your intent to change lanes.
- Make sure you have completely passed the buggy before merging back into the right lane.
If they are slowing down traffic and there is room on the side of the road, buggies must pull over to allow faster traffic to pass. Some counties in Indiana have paved buggy lanes on the shoulder of highways and state roads. However, if you come upon a buggy on a busy road without adequate space on the shoulder for them to pull over, extra caution is needed.
Help from a Local Personal Injury Attorney
Educating both Amish and non-Amish drivers on buggy safety can’t prevent all accidents from ever occurring. If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident with a buggy, our personal injury attorneys may be able to help. Give us a call or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.