Dodging Amish buggies 2.0

My husband, Mark, and I planned an overnight trip to Berlin in early January. We’re really not huge Amish Country fans (we have Amish friends at home), but we like to get away without being too far away. We spent most of our time in nearby cities, shopping or eating at restaurants.

On a Saturday evening after dark, we were traveling back to our room in Berlin at 50 or 55 mph (the speed limit) on a state route and we were still more than 20 miles away from Berlin when out of nowhere two tiny red lights appeared out of the darkness. I started screaming at Mark to slow down — he still hadn’t seen the red reflectors.

I wasn’t really sure what was ahead of us, but I was afraid it might be something with red eyes. No matter what it was I didn’t want to it hit it. We didn’t think we were in an Amish neighborhood as there weren’t any signs posted about watching out for buggies, so we were quite surprised when the red eyes turned out to be red reflectors on the back of an Amish buggy. We immediately put on our hazard lights to alert other drivers because to complicate matters further, the buggy had no lights on the back — just the red reflectors.

Amish buggy no light
This is a photo of one of the buggies we passed. The reflector tape was visible as you became closer

Oncoming drivers had more notice about the presence of the buggy, because it did have headlights, but we couldn’t see those from behind. We were used to the buggies closer to Berlin which had flashing lights on the back, head lights on the front and some even had lights with a blue tint on the top. Mark thought the first one we spotted with blue lights was a police car. This was the first of several buggies with no rear lighting that we passed that evening.

The moral of the story is to stay on your toes no matter where you are traveling. Let’s keep everyone safe and share the road.

This buggy had a light on the back that was blinking even during that day which made it much more visible.
This buggy had a light on the back that was blinking even during that day which made it much more visible.


  1. Thank you for your article. We live in Perry Township in Morrow County, and there are more Amish than English residents. When I am coming into work on a Monday or Thursday morning between 1:30-2 a.m. there are buggies out on the road heading home from “Date Night.” The Amish are doing better lighting their buggies but they are still hard to see in rainy, snowy, bad weather. Plus, the English need to turn their car lights on in bad stormy weather, too. There are a number of cars that are difficult to see until you are right on them because they blend in with the bad weather so well. Bottom line… be careful out there!

    • Jean,

      Thanks for your comment. You must not live too far from me.

      When I head over your way to have my draft horse mare shod by my Amish friend I’m often traveling early in the morning and I often pass many buggies. Sometimes the only light they have in our area seems to be a lantern hanging out the side.

      I even had one Amish buggy driver turn a flash light on and off so I could see them. You are right that we all need to be careful.

  2. Kim,

    Thank you for the article.

    As a member of the Agricultural Safety and Health program at Ohio State University, it may be worth noting that OSU Extension has been working with Anabaptist communities on the issue of lighting and marking (i.e. roadway safety) for many years.

    Most counties (Holmes/Wayne, Geuaga, OH, Elkhart, LaGrange, IN, Lancaster, PA) have an Amish Safety committee that provides leadership on safety issues in their community. As our partner, we both understand it is a ‘two-way street’; Amish buggy drivers need to make their vehicles visible and English (automobile) drivers need to use caution (and be respectful). It is often difficult for both parties to understand the issues; Amish typically don’t want to drawn attention to themselves, and that is what we asking them to do by putting bright markings (i.e. SMV emblem, reflective tape, etc.) and lights on their vehicles. Automotive drivers can’t understand why anyone would want to travel by horse drawn vehicle anyway and why don’t they put more lights and marking on those vehicles.

    Here are some examples of the resources that exist for both groups:

    • Dewey,

      Thank you for sharing additional information. I actually have Amish friends and I do understand some of the limitations they work with in order to stay within their beliefs.

      Also, although I don’t drive on the road at night, I do drive my horses on the road, as do many of my English friends; so English or Amish, car or horse drawn vehicle, I agree we all need to work together to keep everyone safe!

  3. Kim, What you experienced is not uncommon here on the Ohio/Indiana line in West Central Ohio. There is a difference here in the Amish order, and here buggies are open top (yes… ALL buggies are uncovered, even in these harsh weather conditions) and blinking lights are just recently becoming more accepted. Thanks for reminding all of us to be extra cautious on any country road!

    • Michelle,

      I have heard that the Amish communities over your way are much more conservative than even those in Morrow/Richland/Knox County and certainly much more conservative than most of those living in Holmes County. However, I can’t imagine taking a drive down the road in an open buggy in this weather. WOW! Thanks for sharing!

  4. You sound more like a complainer than anything.

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