Drivers in and around Cuyahoga county are likely quite familiar with the presence of people in the Amish community. And while Amish and other residents may not occupy a lot of the same spaces together, we do share the roads.
Unfortunately, this is creating some serious – and dangerous – problems for everyone. Across Ohio, there have been 860 fatal crashes involving Amish buggies between 2012-2017. More than 700 people suffered injuries in the accidents. Citing these troubling numbers, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Transportation are partnering to make roads in Amish country safer for everyone.
What are the plans?
According to this report from the Associated Press, federal and state officials plan to make the following changes to roads across Amish country:
- Making the roads wider
- Adding and improving signage
- Installing buggy lanes in some areas
- Expanding shoulders for pedestrians
- Leveling and straightening roads in hilly areas
- Installing buggy detectors
- Adding new school zones
Officials also plan to improve and expand efforts to educate Amish and non-Amish travelers on how to navigate the roads safely when sharing the road.
What are the expectations?
The actual construction is not slated to begin until 2020, and it will take approximately three years to complete all the anticipated projects. Upon completion, the work should make it safer for everyone to navigate roads across the five Ohio counties identified by local, state and federal officials as being in need of improvements.
In the meantime, motorists are urged to use caution when sharing the road with Amish people. Just like bicyclists and pedestrians, people riding in buggies are slower than vehicles. They also have much less protection in the event of a collision. As such, carefulness is crucial in these areas.
Unfortunately, the threat of accidents in these and other areas across Ohio will never completely go away. However, with improved roads and education, hopefully, the number of accidents – fatal and otherwise – will decrease dramatically.