Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Buggy crashes

Source: Wikimedia
In a freak accident last month, a woman was critically injured in Lancaster County when a minivan struck a horse that had broken away from a group of Amish trying to hitch it to a buggy.

Her brother is now calling for new traffic safety regulations for Amish buggies and is reaching out to local lawmakers. His crusade is the subject of a front-page story in the Lancaster Sunday News. People love to have opinions about the Amish; the article has drawn 57 comments as of this morning.

A table accompanying the article breaks down Lancaster County buggy crash data year-by-year from 2008 to 2012. In total, as the article notes, there were 136 such crashes in that period.

Well, how do buggy crashes compare to the overall accident rate? I didn’t feel like compiling five years of accident statistics, so I just did two. According to PennDOT, Lancaster County had a total of 10,666 vehicle crashes in 2011 and 2012, resulting in 90 fatalities. The corresponding numbers for buggy crashes, according to the Sunday News piece, were 51 and 1.

In other words, buggies accounted for less than one half of one percent of county vehicle crashes and just over 1 percent of the fatal ones.

Every crash is a trauma for the people who experience it, and a tragedy when someone is injured or killed. It’s natural, even laudable, to think, “No one else should have to go through this pain!” But in terms of public safety, buggy crashes aren’t something to focus on. Even reducing them to zero wouldn’t amount to a blip in the big picture.

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