COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After a decade of advocacy and education, Ohio State University Extension recommendations for lighting and marking animal-drawn equipment have been standardized, paving the way for national and international adoption of safety procedures on vehicles, such as Amish buggies, horse-drawn farm wagons and urban carriages.
The standard, officially adopted by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), outlines the practices and procedures for establishing a unique identification system for slow-moving, animal-drawn vehicles on public roadways or highways. The document includes proper lighting and marking of both the vehicle and the animal, such as the use of headlamps, tail lamps, battery-operated or generator-powered lighting systems, and retroreflective material, as well as how to display the slow-moving emblem.
Tom Bean, chair of Ohio State University's Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said that the concept of lighting and marking animal-drawn equipment grew out of a need to address accidents and fatalities with motor vehicles, specifically in such Amish-populated Ohio counties as Holmes, Wayne and Geauga.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, over 1,400 crashes between animal-drawn buggies and motor vehicles have occurred since 1998, resulting in 17 fatalities.
"For over 10 years, we've been leading demonstrations and workshops, educating the Amish and providing recommendations on what we felt was the best approach to lights and the configuration and placement of markings on buggies," said Bean. "It took a long time to get the standard in place, but now we have a model from which laws, rules and regulations can be enacted. The ASABE standard is a summation of all the knowledge available for the most current recommended practices."
Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension's state safety leader, applauds the tireless efforts of OSU Extension educators, Amish community leaders and local and state officials and agencies for years of advocating buggy safety.
"Ten years ago it was a rare thing to see any kind of lighting or markings on Amish buggies. Amish are plain and humble folks, but when they are on the road, they want to be seen," said Jepsen. "Now we have parameters, based on configurations that came right out of Ohio Amish communities and university efforts. The list of people who have had their hands working on this has been tremendous and it's really an awesome feat to see that the Ohio recommendations can now be adopted as a national standard."
For more information on lighting and marking animal-drawn equipment, as well as buggy safety and driving safely in Amish country, log on to the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Web site at http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~agsafety/ash/programs/amish_buggy.html.