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Horses and Cars: Who Has the Right-of-Way?

Scenic Lancaster County is well known for the horse-drawn carriages that share our roads. However, when cars and horses collide, terrible injuries can result. What Pennsylvania laws govern horses on our roads and what can you do to avoid these accidents?

Accidents involving buggies and cars happen all too frequently in Lancaster County:

  •  On April 7, 2014, a 14-year-old girl driving a horse and buggy in Leacock, PA was turning left when she was struck by a tractor-trailer trying to pass on the left. The horse was killed and the teenager was injured, but the driver of the big rig did not suffer any harm.
  • On February 24, a 49-year-old mother and her six-year-old son were injured when a speeding car crashed into the back of their buggy in Upper Leacock Township. Their horse had to be euthanized.
  • On November 30, 2013, two people died and a third was seriously injured when a tractor-trailer rear-ended a buggy in Wilmington Township.

According to Pennsylvania law, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities. To share the road safely, horse buggies must take the following measures:

  • Pull off the road at the first and safest opportunity to let faster traffic pass
  • Display a slow moving vehicle emblem or fanny flag from two to six feet off the ground
  • Use four-way flashers comprised of a yellow light visible from the front and a red light visible from the rear at night. While it is not the law, these lights should be used during poor weather conditions as well
  • Refrain from using limited access highways on which horse buggies are not permitted

While following these guidelines can help avoid some collisions, others are unavoidable. Those injured in accidents — as either drivers or passengers in a car or buggy — in Lancaster County, PA should seek guidance from a local attorney for help taking legal action.

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