Solar Signs Aim to Help Curb Crashes with Amish Buggies

Though the Amish eschew modern technology, Kentucky transportation officials are hoping the western Kentucky Amish community will benefit from solar-powered signs.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials have installed the new signs warning motorists to be alert for horse-drawn vehicles along U.S. 41A in Christian County. The signs, outlined in light-emitting diode bulbs, are aimed at improving safety for both motorists and Amish families who share the busy four-lane highway south of Hopkinsville.

"We have installed two sets of the new LED-enhanced signs on U.S. 41A in southern Christian County just this week," Chief District Engineer Ted Merryman said. "Installation of the signs came after a number of meetings with the Amish community to discuss ways of improving safety for everyone."

The oversized 4-foot-by-4-foot signs are located at mile points 5.6 and 10.4 in both directions. The signs have small LED lights around the edge that flash and adjust their intensity based on light conditions. Additional standard placard warning signs have been installed between those points.

The signs are being added in response to a request by representatives of the Amish community and local Christian County officials, traffic engineer Kenny Potts said in a statement.

"We had a fatal crash on U.S. 41A in that area last spring involving a passenger vehicle that rear-ended a horse-drawn buggy. The crash injured seven members of an Amish family riding in the buggy, killing one child," Potts said.

The almost five-mile section of U.S. 41A between John Rivers Road and Kentucky 1453 south of Hopkinsville was identified by the Amish community as being the most heavily traveled by horse-drawn vehicles. Potts says the LED signs are intended as a temporary fix until U.S. 41A can be widened and shoulders added to accommodate horse-drawn vehicles.

More than 22,000 vehicles travel the section of U.S. 41A between Hopkinsville and Interstate 24 in an average day, according to the Transportation Cabinet.

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The Associated Press

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