RCMP officer takes the reins of Amish buggy for public safety

RCMP Const. Sonet Sato got to know some of the Amish people living on Prince Edward Island and how they maneuver roads using a horse and buggy.

P.E.I. RCMP officer completes community profile on the Amish to educate public

RCMP Const. Sonet Sato did a community profile on the Amish as part of her field training. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

RCMP Const. Sonet Sato got to know some of the Amish people living on Prince Edward Island and how they maneuver roads using a horse and buggy.

Sato works out of Kings County and as part of her field training she did a community profile on the Amish in hopes of educating the public, she said.

"P.E.I. is a farming community and during harvest time especially we have slow-moving vehicles as well as the Amish. And the Amish community only commutes by horse and carriage, and children will be on foot many times," Sato said.

"I wanted to dig a little deeper. I went for a couple of visits and had the opportunity to be on the horse and carriage and take the reins."

While this picture was taken from the passenger perspective, Sato took the reins for some of the ride along. (Submitted by Sonet Sato)

With a horse in front of her it was hard to see oncoming traffic, and with the carriage attached it was also difficult to see traffic approaching from behind, Sato said.

"It's kind of scary when you don't know what is coming and you know that people are speeding there, and overtaking even, where the horse and carriage will be travelling."

Sato said she only had a short ride and there weren't many cars on the road.

Winter driving difficult

Sato was told by members of the Amish community that they try and get off the road as much as possible to share it with cars, trucks, farm equipment and tractor trailers.

Please keep an eye out for other road users.— Const. Sonet Sato

There is not a big shoulder and there is usually gravel on the sides, Sato said, and that makes it difficult to make room in the winter when "it gets quite slushy and muddy."

However, Sato said there are incidents when cars are approaching from the opposite direction.

Sato said the car in front will slow down because they notice the buggy, but the vehicle approaching from behind may not, and go to pass.

"They will pass the slower-moving vehicle and come really close to the horse and that's the scary part because the horse can actually take off," Sato said, adding the driver will have to get out of the carriage.

Don't honk at the horses

The horses are trained to be around vehicles, but Sato said you can never know how the animal will react.

"Some people honk, we would like for them not to because it scares the animals," she said.

Sato said a pamphlet is being put together with highway safety to make people more aware of horses and buggies on the road. 

The pamphlets will be passed out at traffic stops across the province, she said.

"Please keep an eye out for other road users, for pedestrians on the highways," Sato said.

More P.E.I. words

With files from Angela Walker


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