Province looks to make roads safer for horse-drawn buggies

After a two people were sent to hospital last week after a car collided with a horse-drawn buggy in rural Kings County, P.E.I., the province is looking into making some changes to some Island roads.

At least two collisions involving carriages in Kings County so far this year

The P.E.I. government is looking at making some changes to Island roads to make them safer for horse-drawn carriages. (Shane Ross/CBC)

After two people were sent to the hospital last week after a car collided with a horse-drawn buggy in Kings County, P.E.I., the province is looking into making some changes to certain Island roads to make them safer.

Transportation Minister Steven Myers says his department held a meeting following last week's collision and is exploring how to help prevent accidents in the future. 

"We're taking this very seriously and we want to come up with a solution as soon as possible and start to implement it," Myers said.

The department is looking at several different solutions including widening the shoulder of roads where horse-drawn buggies are used, installing more signs and speaking with members of the Amish community for their feedback.

"We're going to go to them with suggestions. We're going to go with an open mind to to hear their thoughts and their views and their experience and see if we can come up with the best solution that works for everybody,"Myers said.

Concern for Kings County

For Myers, the safety of the Amish community has been top of mind since campaigning for the recent provincial election.

Minister of Transportation Steven Myers says his department hopes to work closely with the Amish community on P.E.I. to see what other safety measures can be implemented for buggies. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

He said people in Georgetown, one of the areas in eastern P.E.I. he represents as an MLA, are especially concerned with the safety of horse-drawn buggies.

Before the collision last week, there was another collision involving a buggy in Kings County back in March.

He hopes small changes will help vehicles and buggies navigate the roads together safely.

"I just think we need to do extra ... with people driving motorized vehicles," Myers said.

The department has also been looking at other jurisdictions like Pennsylvania, which has a population that drives horse-drawn buggies, to see what other safety requirements could be implemented on Island roads.

Buggies need to be marked, have a reflector, headlight

Currently under P.E.I.'s Highway Traffic Act., people riding horses and driving buggies are treated like other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists — meaning rules like signalling apply.

The rules say horses and buggies should be driven on the right side of the road and keep over as far as possible for faster vehicles to pass safely.

They're also considered a slow-moving vehicle — like farm tractors — and are required to be marked with an orange triangle and at least one reflector on the back of the vehicle, plus a headlight if it's being driven at night.  

"We do want to make any huge changes to the Highway Traffic Act and impose it on the Amish community," Myers said. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel because we don't think we have to." 

Myers said the department will be sending out surveyors to determine which roads could have shoulders extended and to identify blind corners that might put any drivers of horse and buggies at risk. 

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