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NEWS9 Special Assignment: Rules of the road

Updated: Thursday, May 15 2014, 08:01 AM EDT

WTOV9.com

If you've ever traveled in an Amish area, chances are high you've been behind a horse-drawn buggy.
So, what if you want to pass? Or worse, what if you didn't see the buggy headed straight for your vehicle?
We're sitting down with law enforcement getting answers on the rules of the road.
"When a vehicle hits a buggy, nine times out of 10, it's going to be the occupants of the buggy that are severely injured or killed,” said Lt. James Faunda of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Faunda, along with the OSHP, is clearing up confusion about the requirements of a horse-drawn buggy.
“First of all, they are not motor vehicles,” he said. “They're not considered motor vehicles in the Ohio revised code. That's why there's a specific section of the law that addresses the requirements."
The Ohio revised code section 4513.11 specifies buggy safety equipment required by state law during the hours of sunset to sunrise.
At night, buggies are required to display one white light in the front and two red lights in the back with a visible distance of 1,000.
Animal-drawn vehicles also need two red reflectors and one red light on the back.
Or, as an alternative, 72 square inches of reflective tape and a red light.
“If they meet those requirements, then they're meeting the Ohio revised code," Faunda said.
Recently, members of the OHSP called a meeting with Amish elders from the Jerusalem and Somerton areas of Monroe and Belmont counties.
Authorities asked the Amish communities to make their buggies more visible to vehicles.
“The reason we met with the elders was to ask them to go beyond what the Ohio revised code requires because it's about safety," Faunda said.
As Faunda pointed out, different Amish communities have various beliefs on safety regulations, and they range from one extreme to the other.
“In this area, they have the oil lanterns which they display at night on their buggies,” Faunda said. “And other parts of the state, such as Wayne County, I've seen flashing LED's on horse-drawn buggies."
Even amped up illuminators can't offer a 100 percent guarantee against a collision.
“They still get hit,” Faunda said. “And that's because people are distracted, and they're not paying attention to what's ahead of them."
“When you're out there on a slow-moving vehicle such as a horse-drawn buggy going 3 or 4 mph, it only takes seconds for you to close that distance," Faunda said.
A few months ago, troopers responded to a buggy vs. car collision on SR 800 near Somerton where the vehicle went left of center to pass a slower moving car and didn’t see the oncoming buggy.
The vehicle hit the buggy and the horse had to be put down. The passengers inside jumped out just before impact, suffering only minor injuries.
The driver of the vehicle was cited for improper passing left of center.
“I want to bring that to light because the buggy was displaying a white light visible to the front by 1,000 feet,” Faunda said. “But yet this collision still occurred."
Faunda also mentioned if an Amish buggy does not meet the minimum requirements under state law, troopers can issue citations and must stop the buggy and its occupants from traveling any further.

NEWS9 Special Assignment: Rules of the road


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