Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has come up with a unique plan to help keep roads in Campbell County safe.
CCSO has been working with a group of Swartzentruber Amish families in the Southern and Eastern parts of the county who recently moved to the area to ensure their safety while traveling local roads by horse-and-buggy. They have done so by having the families install reflective, silver strips on the back of their buggies, along with red, kerosene lanterns on the sides to improve visibility. In turn, CCSO has asked motorists to be respectful of buggies they may encounter on the road.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to partner with the Amish to prevent an accident,” Sergeant Jeff Rater (CCSO) said about the efforts.
Rater said the sheriff’s office had heard reports from a number of people in the Southern part of the county concerned about hitting the buggies they had begun seeing on roads shortly after the families moved to the area. So, another local family who had been helping the Amish settle helped serve as a liaison for discussions of adding safety features to the new arrivals’ buggies.
Rater said the best thing to do when driving behind a slow moving buggy is to give a good, long honk to make the buggy’s driver aware of the vehicle behind them, as buggies do not have rearview mirrors.
“When they start to pull over to the side of the road, which they will, then just slowly pass them,” Rater said.
Drivers should not use their horns at all while beside buggies, as loud noises can easily scare horses. Lastly, Rater said motorcyclists should be especially careful around buggies, as horses may not see them well, and can become skittish when close to them.
In addition to the safety equipment that has been added to many buggies in the area, VDOT has added 20 signs in areas near Amish families’ dwellings to alert drivers of the possibility of buggies nearby.
In the last two years fatal crashes involving buggies have occurred in Pittsylvania and Buckingham Counties.
Rater emphasized that the sheriff’s office wants to build trust with Amish people who are moving to the area.
“They’re coming down here, let’s welcome them,” he said. “But at the same time let’s get on the same sheet of music with safety and precautions.”