ASHLAND, Ohio (WJW) – A new law that makes flashing yellow lights mandatory on Amish buggies, and other horse-drawn vehicles across the state, is now being enforced by a number of police agencies in Northeast Ohio.
The new law is not popular among the Amish, and some community leaders are openly scoffing at the new flashing light requirement.
On Monday morning, there were some unhappy members of the Amish community as deputies and troopers began writing citations in Amish communities in northern Ashland County.
“It’s our job to enforce the law and we’re asking for voluntary compliance and if they don’t, they could face citations and fines,” said Lt. Don Sims with the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office.
Dash camera video obtained by FOX 8 shows two Amish men who were pulled over outside Ashland by a deputy for violating the new law.
When asked if they were aware of the flashing light requirement, one of the men told the deputy, “We heard about it. I would put it on but my bishop is not allowing me.”
The new buggy light law actually went into effect in September, but the Amish were given a grace period, during which the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other agencies attempted to educate the community about the dangerous conditions created when buggies share the roads with cars and trucks.
“It’s for everybody’s benefit. It keeps you safe, it keeps the users of the roadway safe. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do is save lives and prevent these crashes,” said Lt. Brad Bishop, Commander of OSP’s Ashland Post.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were more than 150 crashes across the state in 2021 involving Amish buggies. The majority of those accidents happened during the nighttime hours when visibility may have been a factor.
Troopers say some elders and bishops in the Amish community are resentful of the new law and are urging others not to obey the law.
“A lot of their argument is that’s not what their forefathers did, and they’re using some spiritual or religious exemptions or claiming that as well,” said Lt. Bishop.
The goal of law enforcement is to change Amish hearts and minds and convince them that the flashing lights will save lives.
“They haven’t been receptive towards it, so we’re hoping with some further education and outreach and enforcement, we can change that behavior and keep everybody safe,” said Lt. Bishop.
Violation of the new law carries a fine of $150. Repeat violators and those who refuse to pay the fine could face jail time.