By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
With the warm weather finally here, more and more people are on the roads. Also on the roads with the seasonable forecast are slow-moving vehicles. Not only is it planting and growing season for farmers, but state and local police officers, particularly in the northern portions of Oswego County, are urging motorists to be aware of horse-drawn buggies. In recent years, more Amish families have moved to our region and are on the roadways. By law, horse-drawn buggies are entitled to a lane on the road so itâ€™s important we respect their rights to a safe roadway.
Buggies move at an average speed of 5 to 7 mph. In many cases, theyâ€™re traveling on highways where the legal speed limit is 55 mph. It doesnâ€™t take a mathematician to figure that seconds count. State troopers, local sheriff, and police departments are working together to ensure the safety of motorists and the Amish community. They are reminding everyone to pay attention, be mindful of the traffic laws and minimize driving distractions.
New York State Police Troop D Traffic Sgt. Bernard Kennett has been on the news and at different events such as the Farmersâ€™ Markets, agriculture shows, and the State Fair trying to educate the public about buggies to help prevent accidents. There have been a few accidents. One involved two children who were thrown after a drunk driver hit their horse-drawn buggy. The driver fled the scene but was later apprehended and charged. Another accident killed a horse. Fortunately, no human fatalities have been reported locally. Sgt. Kennett would like to keep it that way through education. Here are a few facts heâ€™d like motorists to be aware of:
Â· Horses, unlike cars, are not machines. They donâ€™t always do what their drivers tell them. A horse can get spooked by a loud noise or high beams at night and may veer into another lane.
Â· Every slow-moving vehicle is required to display an orange triangle, the traditional slow-moving vehicle emblem, or a red-lighted lantern at least four inches in diameter near the left edge of the vehicle. Those who display the lantern are also required to display 72 inches of white reflective tape on the back of the buggy.
Â· Motorists should not pass any slow-moving vehicle unless they are in a passing zone.
Â· Owners of slow-moving vehicles who use public roadways for agriculture must be able to show proof that they are farmers through current income tax documents. In other words, law enforcement officials remind folks that just because they own a tractor doesnâ€™t entitle their slow-moving vehicle to a right on the road.
Law enforcement officials have worked with local Amish communities to hear their concerns as well. As a result, road signage was erected that indicates horse-drawn buggy areas. Troopers have also helped educate buggy drivers on the importance of proper lighting, reflective tape and orange triangles. Motorists can expect to see buggies on routes 13, 11, 3, 104, 183 and 69 and throughout Williamstown, Pulaski, Richland, Sandy Creek, Orwell, Albion, Amboy and Parish.
Law enforcement officials also encourage rural land owners to use the orange triangles only on slow-moving vehicles. Some, unfortunately, use the triangles on mailboxes but troopers say this confuses drivers who make decisions in split seconds, and triangles should be reserved only for slow-moving vehicles. Wherever youâ€™re driving, I would urge you to use caution and good sense for your sake and for others on the roads.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or any other state matter, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list, contact me by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at (315) 598-5185.