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“Share the Road” takes on expanded focus

Officials today from Parkview LaGrange Hospital and Parkview Trauma Centers, came together to highlight an expanded focus relating to Parkview’s “Share the Road” campaign. While bicyclists have received much of the focus in recent years, there are others – particularly those traveling by horse-drawn buggy – which are vulnerable on our roadways in northeastern Indiana.

            The Amish and Plain Church population of LaGrange County has continued to grow; now making up nearly 40% of county residents. This, coupled with the millions of visitors who travel from out of state to visit Shipshewana for its weekly flea market and auction, creates serious challenges for motorists and buggy drivers alike. The dangerous situation in compounded by the increased truck traffic on SR 120 and US Route 20 as a result of the increase in 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.”

            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 kids are on their way to their local parochial school. It’s vital that motorists take extra caution during these hours.”

            As part of the expanded focus, billboards featuring horse-drawn buggies will appear on a rotating basis in LaGrange County over the next several months.

Motorists:

  • 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.

Buggy Drivers:

  • Always drive in the buggy lane when one is provided.
  • Pull to the side of the road to let traffic pass when it is safe to do so.
  • Always be visible, day and night, by using lights and reflective tape.
  • Buggies are “slow-moving vehicles” and should always have the appropriate signage. (Include Sign)
  • Only use horses that are accustomed to being on the road.
  • Always bring the horse to a complete stop at stop signs.
  • Be careful when making left turns. You should always signal a turn.

Cyclists:

  • Wear a bike helmet at all times.
  • Always ride with traffic and never against it.
  • Obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  • Keep brakes, lights, reflectors, horn or bell, and all safety devices in good working condition.
  • Learn and use hand signals for turns and stops.
  • Keep both hands on the handle bars. Except to signal turns or stops.
  • Avoid riding after 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/one wide.

Pedestrians:

  • Wear reflective or bright-colored clothes at night.
  • When walking or running in the street, make sure you are along the shoulder of the road and 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.