Proposed bill aims to make roads safer by increasing Amish buggy visibility

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MT. HOPE, Ohio (WJW) -- Ohio legislators have proposed a bill aimed at making the roads safer for citizens traveling in animal-drawn carriages.

The Old World and The New World collide in the Holmes County community of Mt. Hope as the Amish and the English gather for the Mt. Hope auctions.

With so many Amish buggies sharing the roads with cars and trucks, accidents are inevitable.

"My experience in the background of being in the EMS and fire for 30 years, was that when people get in a hurry, people try to push each other. Accidents don't happen, they're created, so that's what we see," Amish merchant and volunteer firefighter Reuben Troyer told FOX 8.

Troyer says in recent years, buggy crashes have had a profound impact on the Amish community, and improving safety on the roads has become a major topic of discussion.

“It's life-changing, you know it's forever different from the day of, or the day before and then the day forward. So, it's forever changing for that family and that community and that church,” he said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says in 2019 alone, there were more than 120 accidents involving Amish buggies. and most of those crashes happened during the nighttime hours.

Under a new bill introduced by Ohio House Representatives Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) and Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville), all animal-drawn vehicles would be required to have new reflective tape that is more visible at night and a flashing yellow light on the highest point of the back of the vehicle.

Rep. Kick told FOX 8 that if the bill becomes law, violators who failed to install the proposed safety measures could face a fine, but he added that there would be a grace period before enforcement would begin.

 Reuben Troyer says many Amish groups endorse the proposed new law.

“When the terrible accidents happen, anything we can do to prevent those is one step closer to the perfection we're looking for in that regard,” he said.

Troyer says some conservative sects may oppose the proposed safety measures, but he says in their pursuit of the simple life, the Amish must accept certain changes to adapt to the world around them.

“If we share the roads successfully, we'll never have a bad outcome, that's for every driver out there,” said Troyer. “Just like cars and airbags, as we improve, it all gets better.”

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