How Do You Pass an Amish Buggy When You're Driving?
Passing an Amish buggy while driving can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it is essential to do so safely and respectfully.
These buggies are a common sight on Lancaster, PA roads, and passing them requires a bit of patience and caution.
But more specifically, how do you pass an Amish buggy when you're driving?
On this page, we'll answer that question with a brief set of steps and a longer explanation.
Here's how you do it:
How to Pass an Amish Buggy When You're Driving in 8 Steps
Note that this is not the verbatim methodology that is offered by Pennsylvania or any legal entity.
By passing an Amish buggy on the road, you do so at your own risk, and Gents of Lancaster is not responsible for your actions on the road.
Use common sense. Use courtesy. And above all, be patient.
- Slow down
- Give the buggy at least 20 feet of room
- Look for oncoming traffic
- Wait until you can see more than 10 seconds down the road
- Turn on your left turn signal
- Enter the opposing lane of traffic
- Wait until you see the buggy in your rear-view mirror
- Re-enter your lane of traffic
1. Slow Down
Slowing down when driving behind an Amish buggy is essential for the safety of both the driver and the buggy occupants.
Buggies travel at a much slower pace than other vehicles and typically don't have the same level of visibility or maneuverability.
By slowing down, you start to maintain a safe distance from the buggy and so you can safely proceed to the next step and, if necessary, react to a horse's erratic behavior.
Remember -- horses aren't machine-perfect. They buck. They fight back. Sometimes, they get too tired to trot.
Because Amish buggies are pulled by animals, there is a level of unpredictability to them that is not found in cars.
The best thing to do is to slow down.
2. Give the Buggy at Least 20 Feet of Room
Buggies are a little thinner than most modern cars. But because of the aforementioned issues with horse-drawn vehicles, the buggy (and the people inside) can quickly swerve from side to side without warning.
They can also stop short, buck, and more. In other words, even if a buggy is moving along at a decent speed, its direction and velocity can change on a dime.
It's up to the horse, after all.
Giving 20 feet of space between you and the back of the buggy gives you ample time to react to these situations, and it often gives you a better view around the buggy so you can proceed to the next step.
3. Look for Oncoming Traffic
First, never pass an Amish buggy if you can't see around corners, over hills, or further down the road for whatever reason.
Passing an Amish buggy "blind" is a surefire way to have a head-on collision. In Lancaster, the fault of those kinds of car accidents falls squarely on the shoulders of the person passing the buggy.
If you see any car coming your way, the odds are strong that the car is too close for you to start safely passing the buggy. Err on the side of caution when you're evaluating the distance of oncoming traffic, whether it's another motor vehicle, a group of bicyclers, another Amish buggy, farm equipment, or something else.
4. Wait until You Can See More Than 10 Seconds Down the Road
Being able to see 10 seconds down the road is essential before passing an Amish buggy to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.
Buggies often travel at a slower pace, and it can take longer to pass them than expected.
By having a clear view of the road ahead for at least 10 seconds, drivers can make sure there is ample space to pass safely and avoid oncoming traffic or other potential hazards.
Additionally, this provides enough time to react to sudden stops or turns by the buggy, reducing the risk of accidents. By following this guideline, drivers can safely pass Amish buggies and maintain road safety.
5. Turn on Your Left Turn Signal
Turning on your turn signal before passing an Amish buggy is crucial to communicate your intentions to other drivers on the road. This allows them to anticipate your actions and adjust their driving accordingly, reducing the risk of accidents.
In addition, never pass a buggy on the right unless the buggy has shown intent to turn. Even then, it's smart to wait for the buggy to remove itself from the road because, again, horses aren't always predictable or perfect.
If the buggy hasn't shown intent to turn, it's reckless and dangerous to pass on the shoulder of a road. This is because buggies try to stay as far to the right of a road as possible, though it's not always easy for them.
So if you try to pass on the shoulder -- whether you're on a motorcycle or driving a car -- you will almost certainly cause an accident that can easily become fatal.
In other words, only pass buggies on the left.
6. Enter the Opposing Lane of Traffic
Entering the opposing lane of traffic when passing an Amish buggy should be done with caution and only when it's safe.
In that respect, it's just like passing a car on a back road with a dotted yellow dividing line.
When you do pass, stay as quiet as possible so that you don't spook the horse. Don't honk your horn, don't yell out the window, and don't rev your engine.
Doing any of this runs the risk of indirectly causing an accident and risking the lives of the Amish passengers in the buggy and the horse itself.
7. Wait until You See the Buggy in Your Rear-View Mirror
When you're passing a buggy, the general rule of thumb is that it's safe to re-enter your lane of traffic when you can see the buggy in your rear-view mirror.
This is because it requires you to be so far ahead of the buggy that when you re-enter your lane, there's no risk of hitting the horse or buggy itself.
Any kind of contact between a car and a horse is especially disastrous. Not only will it almost certainly directly or indirectly kill the animal, it will send the Amish passengers completely out of control and into significant danger.
To avoid this, always look for the buggy in your rear-view mirror when you pass. It's just safe.
8. Re-Enter Your Lane of Traffic
Finally, once you can see the Amish buggy in your rear-view mirror, you can re-enter your traffic.
Technically, you should turn on your right turn signal for this, but very few people do.
Still, we recommend it because it's the law and it's safe.
And when it comes to passing an Amish buggy on a back road in Lancaster, PA, safety is key.
Don't worry about whether you're running late -- it's better for you to get there in one piece (and without driving recklessly) than not at all.
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