Elkhart, Ind., Sheriff’s department to distribute buggy manuals to Amish community
By: Zina Kumok and Tim Vandenack
ELKHART — Sheriff Brad Rogers spoke on Monday about the newly printed Horse and Buggy Driver’s Manual that will be distributed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department. The manual comes about a year after an accident killed two Amish girls.
The 34-page manual was put together by police from Elkhart and LaGrange counties, Amish group the Northern Indiana Safety Association, police and safety groups from Pennsylvania, and Ohio State University. NISA paid for the production of the manual, according to Rogers.
Rogers said the manuals will be distributed to Amish churches, which will distribute them to parishioners. The manual is free of charge to anyone who wants one, including those who drive gas-powered vehicles.
Indiana state Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, sees the new manual as a supplement to the safety education Amish children currently receive on operating buggies, wagons and other vehicles.
Area officials and Amish leaders sat down to talk about safety after a crash between an SUV and a pony cart killed two Amish girls and injured several other children Sept. 5, 2011.
Yoder said the idea was that an Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department representative would visit Amish schools to discuss the guidelines.
“Maybe coming from the sheriff or a person of authority, it’ll resound a little more with these families,” said Yoder, who has close ties with the Amish community.
The Amish were involved in crafting the manual, he said, and he suspects they’ll embrace it. Amish leaders recognize a need for education, he added, which can vary from family to family and Amish school to Amish school.
“They were cognizant of the fact they did present a danger at times, not just to themselves but to others,” Yoder said.
The new manual sets no age standards, though it suggests children be at least 10 before driving a pony cart.
The age of the six children in the pony cart and trailer involved in last year’s accident ranged from 4 to 10 and the two girls killed were 10 and 7.
That crash was the 20th in two years involving a buggy or cart and a motorized vehicle, though it was the first fatality in that time.
Since then, buggy crashes in Elkhart and western LaGrange counties have claimed two lives and injured at least seven more people.
The ages of Amish operators remains a pertinent issue for Yoder and discussion on the topic will continue. “Frankly, we can’t have kids being killed on our highways if we can prevent it,” he said.
ELKHART – It’s been a full year since a tragic accident near Middlebury killed two Amish children and injured three others. Now, Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers has unveiled a new partnership with members of the Amish community.
On Labor Day of 2011, an SUV hit the pony cart 6 children were riding.
10-year-old Jenna Miller and 7-year-old Jolisa Miller died in the accident that raised questions about the laws surrounding the use of horse-drawn carts and buggies on the roadways.
Rogers says he is partnering with the Northern Indiana Safety Association to better educate people operating horse-drawn vehicles and reduce crashes involving buggies and carts.
A manual has been released for horse and buggy drivers who use public roads, but Rogers says it’s also designed to help visitors to the area who may not be familiar with horse and buggy operations.
The manual covers topics ranging from courtesy, conduct, buggy lighting, age of operators, driving on the roadway and rules of the road.
“The sheriff and the Amish Safety Committee recognizes the potential danger caused by the motoring public encountering horse-drawn vehicles and potential crashes, and this manual is an attempt to reduce accidents through increased awareness of all drivers on the roadways in Elkhart County,” said Rogers.
Soon after last year’s deadly crash near Middlebury, Goshen College professor Steve Nolt, who has worked closely with Amish communities in both Pennsylvania and Elkhart County, offered some thoughts about horse and buggy safety.
“In some ways the Amish probably think about children in a pony cart much like children on a bicycle or a scooter or a moped in wider society,” Nolt explained.
He also said many Amish schools actually use a workbook to educate Amish children about buggy safety. But kids don’t generally get those workbooks until seventh or eighth grade. The child driving the pony cart hit by that SUV (Labor Day 2011) was only 10, the age of a fourth or fifth-grade student.
The Horse and Buggy Driver’s Manual is now available for pickup and distribution at the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office on C.R. 26 in Elkhart, Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The publication is free. http://www.wsbt.com/news/wsbt-elkhart-county-sheriff-teams-with-amish-community-to-reduce-buggy-crashes-20120907,0,4254907.story? (link non-functional now)