Home / News / Gray reflective tape or orange signs: Kentucky Amish buggy fight continues
Gray reflective tape or orange signs: Kentucky Amish buggy fight continues

Gray reflective tape or orange signs: Kentucky Amish buggy fight continues

Swartzentruber Amish are one of the most conservative sects of Amish in America. They wear dark colors and drive horse and buggies to get around.  They do not have telephones or indoor plumbing, and they believe that the orange triangle the state of Kentucky wants them to put on the back of their buggies is too garish, that they should rely on God, not signs to protect them on the highway, and they believe in their ways enough to fight.  The Amish way of fighting is as unobtrusive as they are–passive resistance.

Nola.com adds:

"We try to lead a simple, plain life," [Jacob] Gingerich said from his workshop as blue and navy shirts and pants fluttered on a clothesline outside. "Putting that orange triangle on the back of our buggy would not leave our buggies plain anymore."

He and seven other Amish men were sent to jail in September for a few days for refusing to pay fines related to vehicle sign violations. A ninth Amish man avoided jail time when a local resident paid his fine. At least two other Kentucky counties, Grayson and Logan, have recently summoned men into court for driving unmarked buggies. A court date on Thursday could land more in jail.

A group of Swartzentruber Amish who recently met with an Associated Press reporter at Gingerich's farm fear they would be treated as outcasts by other Swartzentruber communities around the country if they use the safety triangles.

Every year a good number of Amish are killed and/or injured by auto/buggy collisions.  It is not clear if hanging a SMV sign has any impact on whether or not the buggies are easier to see.  Buggies are black, and when driven at night, often only have a lantern hanging off the front.  More liberal Amish use a car battery to install vehicle lights on the back of the buggy.

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • I love your Amish stories, Dakota!

    In some ways, their insistence on not using the bright orange triangle signs or decent lighting is very selfish. While you noted that it is unclear whether those signs make a difference, it seems to me that a big issue would be the dark buggies at night. Do they think about how their actions can affect a driver who doesn't see their buggy and accidentally kills someone? Drivers involved in these accidents probably feel horrible and guilty about it for the rest of their lives. I'd be interested to know if the Amish sue for damages in these situations, or if they are found to be negligent. Nonetheless, it is not fair to drivers.


  • The Amish don't sue–they don't believe in settling disputes in court. I agree they ought to have at least reflective tape so they can be seen. States with heavy concentrations of Amish like Ohio and Pennsylvania allow both the tape and the SMV sign.

    • Well, good to know that they don't sue. What do they do if someone sues them?

      I'm guessing that as a general practice, they don't "drive around" at night.

      • No, they don't drive around at night a lot as a rule. Most buggy accidents actually happen during daylight hours, for which I don't think the sign does much good.

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