Recently a collision between a horse and a minivan critically injured the car’s passenger, Amanda Mattern, and killing the horse [see Rucki's article: Minivan collides with horse]. The animal broke loose from an Amish gathering while it was getting harnessed, and bolted onto Route 30 where it was soon struck by a minivan. The head-on collision between van and horse caused the animal to partially end up inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
Mattern, 37, of Mountville, has remained in a coma since the September 1 incident. She underwent reconstructive surgery on her face. The other members of her family riding in the minivan avoided injuries, but the trauma remains.
Jason McClune, Mattern’s brother, is attempting to make some important safety changes.
No stranger to safety on the road, McClune is the director of transportation for the Solanco School District where he is charged with the coordination and supervision of a large fleet of buses on a daily basis. He knows very well that when cars and horse-drawn vehicles share the road, accidents are going to happen. In Lancaster County, it is commonplace to see horses and buggies. Amish wagons use the rural roads, and often lead a long line of vehicles moving at the horse’s pace.
Because accidents involving horses and buggies and vehicles are too frequent on the county’s roads, McClune has come up with a few safety suggestions that hopefully can become law.
- Require all horses used for road work in buggies or being ridden to wear safety reflectors.
- Outfit all horse-drawn buggies with lights and reflectors.
- Require buggy lights to remain on at all times.
- Establish an age requirement for operators of horse-drawn buggies or wagons.
- Administer test to buggy operators on the same rules that drivers must know.
A member of the Amish community in Gordonville, Sam Stoltzfus, is in agreement with McClune. He has been driving by horse and buggy on area roads since age 12 and believes that these precautions are well advised. He offered an additional recommendation be added as well – that of adding a reflective nonmotorized vehicle identification plates for buggies [already in effect in Indiana].
Stoltzfus said that the Amish have tried to improve road safety by publishing a horse-and-buggy driver's manual in cooperation with the Lancaster County Planning Commission and PennDOT. The manual stresses buggy lighting, courtesy and abiding by the rules of the road. It also discusses the handling and hitching of a horse, and emphasizes the use of good equipment, having a good harness, using child safety seats and placing reflectors around the buggy.
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This video depicts a brief synopsis of the Amish way of life. Explaining the Amish Way of Life