During the past several months, there have been several articles published about accidents involving vehicles colliding with Amish buggies.
Most of these accidents have resulted in serious injuries or death. The most recent was reported in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram on Jan. 4 and resulted in the death of a 26-year-old Amish man. This accident was reported to have happened at 5:20 P.M. (dark) and was a rear-end collision, which seems to be a common theme in these incidents.
I would like to relay a situation that, had it not been for another driver’s actions, could have resulted in the same type of accident. During this past deer hunting season, a friend and I were driving on County Road N just south of Baldwin, and as we approached an oncoming car, the oncoming car’s headlights were turned off for a split second. As a passenger in the vehicle I was riding in, I glanced at our dash thinking our headlights might be off, but that was not the issue.
I looked back at the road and in that moment of darkness I saw the reflection of an SMV sign and the outline of a buggy in front of us. At this point, the buggy was approximately 75 yards in front of us. Assuming that we were traveling at about 55 mph, this warning from the approaching driver allowed us to react much sooner than had we driven through the glare of the headlights and then had to identify and react to the situation.
I don’t know if this is a common practice used as a warning for drivers who live in an area where there is a population of Amish people living. However, what that oncoming driver did probably saved a very bad accident from happening that evening.
I’m not sure how law enforcement feels about this action taken, but I would certainly encourage others to give some kind of a warning to oncoming traffic as this individual did to us if at all possible.
Something else to please consider for those who drive with their fog lights on when not needed. Please think about the time it takes your eyes to recover from just headlight glare alone and how much brighter your fog lights are. This certainly would have been a contributing factor that evening.
If by chance someone is reading this and feels like it might have been you who took this action, we thank you.
Buss is a retired teacher from the Menomonie school district.