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Southern Tier

Police working to decrease Amish buggy accidents

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Police working to decrease Amish buggy accidents
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Anyone who's passed an Amish buggy while driving knows it can be a dangerous situation. A number of recent accidents have law enforcement agencies working to increase safety on the roads. Barry Wygel takes a look at what is being done.

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- You'll find the horse drawn carriages on roads across the state. Now police agencies are trying to make it easier for buggies to share the road.

Here in the North Country, officers are increasing awareness with both motorists and the Amish.

"We decided there was a need to meet with the Amish community to stress upon them our concerns about traffic safety,” said Lt. Kevin Boyea, from Troop B of the New York State Police.

Tuesday a number of issues were discussed, all aimed at keeping people safe on the road, especially as winter approaches.

"They had similar concerns, they were aware of concerning traffic safety. They also impressed upon us concerns they had, in particular with winter driving involving snow plows," said Boyea.

During winter it gets dark earlier, meaning more buggies are on the road at night.

"At this time, the Amish community is in compliance with the law in New York State. They have white tape and a lantern on the driver's side of the buggy, but it still makes it very difficult to see unless you are used to this," said Boyea.

On State Route 11B, it is home to a number of Amish communities, it's also one of the most traveled roads for the Amish and for the regular motorists.

Police say drivers usually don't understand it's their responsibility to be safe and avoid an accident.

"It's incumbent upon the motorist to pay attention to their surroundings, reduce their speed and certainly allow any oncoming traffic to pass, then pull to the left and make a wide berth," said Scott Bonno, St. Lawrence County Undersheriff.

Safety will be a team effort between the public and the Amish community.

"This is a problem that can only be fixed by awareness on both sides," said Bonno.

There are plans to have more meetings with the Amish community in the future.

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