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Better-lit buggies a nice compromise

Despite what goes on daily in Washington D.C., and even Madison, it is still possible for people to compromise. We’re noticing that lately in the unlikely place of Clark County’s rural roads.

After county law enforcement officers handed out a string of tickets earlier this year to operators of horse-drawn vehicles for improper night lighting, we’re now seeing buggies move down the road after sunset with noticeably improved markings. Some of the horse-drawn vehicles we’ve seen in recent weeks and months are equipped with blinking lights and reflective stickers, which has made them far easier to notice in lightless conditions. It’s a dangerous enough situation with two types of traffic moving at dramatically different speeds, but when one of them is mostly black and not well-lit, it’s a recipe for injury and death.

We surely understand the Amish community’s reluctance to move any closer to the modern way of life they disdain, but unlit buggies at night is a problem that cannot be overlooked. Yes, the Amish may believe that the God in which they believe should be the ultimate decision-maker on matters of life and death, and if they so choose to put themselves in harm’s way, well, it’s their call. However, they are also putting other humans in harm’s way. Just because a car or truck is faster and heavier and safer does not mean its drivers and passengers are immune from injury in crashes with horses and buggies. And, even if a motor vehicle occupant is not injured in such a collision, a driver may have to live for the rest of their life with the sadness of having hurt or killed someone they did not see in the dark.

We credit at least portions of the area Amish population with recognizing this traffic problem and taking steps to correct it with their newly upgraded lighting. Traffic tickets may have helped spur the change, but whatever works, right? By compromising on their beliefs and adding lights that they would probably rather not have on their buggies, they have shown they can be flexible in living in a society that usually zooms by them with little regard.

In turn, we trust law enforcement will recognize the effort and call off the dogs, so to speak. The rest of us should also be appreciative of the upgrade, and do whatever we can to make our roads a less scary place for folks who choose to ride on wooden or steel wheels instead of rubber. Give them room, slow down when we pass, and yield to oncoming traffic when passing them rather than being too impatient and trying to squeeze by. Remember, compromise is a 2-way street. Let’s both move in the same direction here.

Members of the TRG editorial Board include Publisher Kris O’Leary, Editor Dean Lesar, and Carol O’Leary.