FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Parkview Health announced Tuesday that its "Share the Road" campaign which has focused on increasing the safety of motorists and bicyclists will now also include horse drawn buggies, pony carts and those walking alongside roads.
Officials from Parkview LaGrange Hospital and Parkview Trauma Centers spoke at a news conference about the dangers facing the continually growing Amish and Plain Church population in LaGrange County.
Those two groups now comprise nearly 40 percent of county residents and they typically travel by buggy, pony cart, bicycle or by walking. Motorists who live in the area are familiar with the travel habits, but the thousands of tourists who visit the area evert year for attractions such as the Shipshewana flea market may not be and that can create dangerous situations.
According to Parkview Health, the dangerous situation is compounded by the increased truck traffic on SR 120 and US Route 20 as a result of higher tolls on the Indiana Toll Road.
“Many of our trauma related injuries that involve those riding in buggies or on bicycles leave patients critically injured and sometimes even cause death,” said Lisa Hollister, program manager of Parkview Trauma Centers. “Encouraging motorists to be aware, and give that extra space needed on the roadways can prevent the life changing-injuries we see every day and that’s the point of our renewed messaging.”
As part of the expanded "Share the Road" focus, billboards featuring horse-drawn buggies will appear on a rotating basis in LaGrange County over the next several months.
“Buggy and bicycle traffic are both of concern here in LaGrange,” said LaGrange County Sheriff, Terry Martin. “Buggies, pony carts, bicycles and walking are the Amish children’s primary means of transportation to school. We see many more accidents first thing in the morning when the kids are on their way to their local parochial school. It’s vital that motorists take extra caution during these hours.”
Motorists are asked to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Rural roads are not city streets. Be aware that they are often narrower, sometimes with limited or no shoulder, and give you less room to maneuver.
- Watch for slow moving vehicle signs. Horse and buggy drivers and farm equipment are common on the roads in LaGrange County and surrounding areas.
- A buggy averages between 5 and 8 mph. Know your “CLOSING TIME.” You have significantly less time to respond to a closing buggy going 5 mph than you would a car moving at 45 mph.
- Stay at least three feet from bicycles, pedestrians and buggies on the road.
- When passing a bicycle or buggy, hug the center line and pass at 15 mph or less. If no vehicles are approaching from the other direction, cross the center line slightly to allow more room.
- A horse is not a machine! Motorists should use care when driving close or passing a buggy, as horses can be unpredictable.
- When turning across traffic, look carefully for cyclists, pedestrians and horse and buggies so you can maintain a safe distance.
- Be sure to turn on your lights at dusk to help others see you.
- A vehicle has many blind spots. Be a defensive driver and always utilize the “scan and search” method.
Cyclists should adhere to these guidelines:
- Wear a bike helmet at all times
- Always ride with traffic, never against it
- Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals
- Keep brakes, lights, reflectors, horn or bell and all safety devices in good working order
- Learn and use hand signals for turns and stops
- Keep both hands on the handle bars, expect to signal a turn or stop
- Avoid riding in the dark. If you must do so, use a headlight and reflectors and wear light colored or reflective clothing.
- Look both directions when turning onto a one-way street
- When riding in groups, always ride single file
Pedestrians should adhere to these guidelines:
- Wear reflective or bright-colored clothes at night
- When walking or running, make sure you are along the shoulder of the road facing traffic
- Cross streets at corners using signals and crosswalks when available
- Make eye contact with drivers and always look left, right and then left again before crossing busy streets
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