Ohio residents who live near Amish farms and villages are familiar with horse-drawn buggies bearing the easily recognizable orange identifying triangle. The Amish usually prefer traveling in their horse-drawn buggies to driving automobiles, but their presence on rural roads poses a special traffic hazard.
A horse-drawn buggy travels at about 5 mph. A car or truck traveling at 55 mph can close the distance between it and the buggy in about 6 seconds. The driver of the motor vehicle thus has very little time to react after spotting the buggy. This speed differential may have been the cause of a truck-buggy collision in northern Ohio.
The buggy was traveling northbound on U.S. Hwy. 42. Three members of an Amish family were riding in the buggy. Two were adult women, and one of them was holding a 7-month old baby. The truck crashed into the rear of the buggy. The two adults were seriously injured, and they were taken to a local hospital. According to Ohio State Troopers on the scene, neither the driver of the truck nor the baby who was riding in the carriage were injured.
State troopers said that they are continuing to investigate the accident. A number of causes are possible. The truck driver may have been impaired by alcohol or drugs, or he may simply have been traveling at an excessive speed that prevented him from stopping before he hit the carriage. Another possibility is that the truck's brakes may have been defective. Weather does not appear to be involved. An important but unknown factor is whether the truck driver had ever encountered Amish carriages on the highway.
While the circumstances of the accident are unusual, the same analysis must be used to identify the party at fault. The driver of the buggy is most likely free from liability unless she was operating the buggy in an unsafe manner, say, driving too close the center line. The truck driver may have been inattentive, or he may have fallen asleep just before the collision. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a similar accident may wish to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer for an analysis of the facts and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.