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Three Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Horse Drawn Buggies

Steve Wagner

Drunk Driver Causes Horse Drawn Buggy Crash in Steuben County

News reports of a horse drawn carriage crash in Steuben County say a 22-year-old drunk driver caused serious injury to several Montgomery residents who were riding in the buggy. Both vehicles were heading north and deputies were told the drunk driver’s car hit the back of the buggy causing all four occupants to be ejected. The victims were as young as a 13-year-old who was flown from the scene in a medical helicopter to a 23-year-old who was operating the horse drawn carriage and treated and released at the scene. The accident remains under investigation.

Safely Share The Road With a Horse-Drawn Buggy

Although drunk driving is the believed cause of this accident, motorists also commonly collide with horse-drawn buggies because they overestimate the time they have and don’t make a move to pass or slow down soon enough. This creates the scene for the most common buggy vs. motor vehicle accident, a rear-end collision.

Normal speeds for horse-drawn buggies are typically below 10 mph. Horse-drawn buggies may be even slower when pulling heavy loads or when crossing intersections. However, some buggy horses are faster and can reach speeds of 18 to 20 mph on an open roadway. Here are some suggested driving practices – courtesy of the Indiana Department of Transportation – to obey when sharing the road with a horse-drawn buggy.

  • As you approach and pass a horse-drawn buggy, remember that horses are not machines. They may get tired and slow down, and sometimes they can be unpredictable. For example, horses may spook at a fast-moving vehicle or a loud noise, such as a revving engine.
  • A horse-drawn buggy driver may have limited visibility. When pulling a large load, a driver may not be able to see a passenger vehicle to the rear. For these reasons, you need to be extra cautious when passing horse-drawn buggies. Be sure to slow down and give buggies and horse-drawn equipment plenty of room when passing. Also watch for horse-drawn buggies making left turns into fields and driveways.
  • Sometimes, horses get nervous at intersections and back up a few feet after coming to a complete stop. Because of this, you need to leave some space between your vehicle and a buggy stopped at a traffic light or stop sign. It is best to stay back and leave about 10 to 12 feet of space between your vehicle and the buggy.

Indiana’s Amish Country

Indiana has the third-largest population of Amish in the U.S., behind Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the state’s largest and oldest settlements of Amish are located in Elkhart and LaGrange counties, according to Amish America. There are also smaller, newer settlements, such as the one in eastern Indiana near Economy and Hagerstown where you will often see horse-drawn buggies on the roads. Watch out for these buggies while you are traveling to keep everyone on the road safe.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a buggy accident or involved in a drunk driving accident, please call our Indiana-based vehicular accident attorneys for your risk-free, no-cost consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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