New legislation aims to add more lights to buggies

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 5:38 PM CST
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Lawmakers are looking to make it safer for anyone who drives on the road by requiring more lighting on the back of buggies.

While the bill looks to make its way through Madison, Wednesday night, the Eau Claire County board is hoping to offer its own support for the bill.

“Around here you see them all the time,” said Brian Lemere of Fall Creek.

Animal drawn vehicles or buggies are a sight rarely missed in local communities, sharing space with motorized drivers on the road. However, it's not always a smooth driving experience.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said there have been more than 30 crashes a year between buggies and vehicles; that's why new legislation is hoping to increase visibility of buggies on the road.

“It would require amber lights on the back of horse drawn vehicles, Amish buggies,” said David Mortimer, a county board supervisor for the 16th District. “This is a safety feature that's similar in other states like Indiana and Pennsylvania. It helps us as drivers as we come up to a buggy. It might be inclement weather or it might be dark and the amber strobe is a signal to us there's a slow moving vehicle ahead.”

Currently, state law requires red lights on the back of buggies, a helpful light that could be improved.

“An Amish buggy goes maybe about 10 miles per hour, I might be traveling at 60 or 55,” Mortimer said. “Currently the law is for just red lights on the back of a buggy and those really don't indicate there’s a slow moving vehicle ahead.”

In Augusta, many locals said they see buggies traveling the roads often. That's why many of them said, the more lighting the better.

“I think it's a good thing,” said Aaron Yoder of Augusta. “I think they should put them on. I’ve witnessed one accident myself. I personally think it would be a lot better if they had them. They’d be a lot more visible.”

However, some locals said, there's no need for increased legislation for the Amish community as drivers should just be paying more attention.

"Paying attention and slowing down helps with our safety,” said Donald Sobczak of Ladysmith. “We have headlights, we have new LED lights, and you should be able to see that vehicle long before you get to it.”

Wednesday night at the Eau Claire County Board meeting, supervisors will be looking at a resolution of support to send to Madison. The bill has already passed in the Assembly and is awaiting Senate approval.