State hopes buggy drivers heed new safety manual

Friday, November 1, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- State officials are creating a new safety manual for horse-drawn buggy drivers, hoping it helps them avoid crashes with fast-moving cars and trucks on winding Amish country roads.

Seven members of an Amish family, including five children from ages 3 to 11, remained hospitalized Wednesday after the latest such accident.

Similar to a "Safe Driving in Amish Country" brochure already available, the new manual will focus on common sense and courtesy, with an emphasis on lights and reflectors the law requires on carriages to give them higher visibility, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

"It's primarily going to be geared toward the Amish, giving them some tips on how to cope with much heavier, faster-moving vehicles than their buggies," Kirkpatrick said.

The manual will be published in about two months, though officials are still deciding how to distribute it, Kirkpatrick said. Drivers of animal-drawn vehicles may not see it at PennDOT offices, because they don't need operators' licenses and they don't need to register the buggies.

In the latest crash, a van demolished an Amish family's buggy Sunday night on an unlit, two-lane bridge across the Susquehanna River. The three children and their father were in critical condition while the mother was in serious condition. The horse was killed.

Pennsylvania had 371 horse-and-buggy crashes, killing 18 people and injuring 442, from 1996 through 2000, the latest year for which PennDOT has buggy accident statistics available. In 40 percent of the crashes, the buggies were struck from the rear.

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