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Road Etiquette?

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  • Road Etiquette?

    Yesterday afternoon, I was returning from a fox hunt with my trailer and came upon a person driving a pony on the road my barn is on. I did what I do when I encounter Amish drivers and mounted folks: slowed down to almost a crawl and pulled into the oncoming lane to pass the cart with as much room as possible.

    The pony didn't even react to my rig, but I was startled to see the driver drop the reins and give me double middle fingers.

    What is the correct thing to do when encountering a cart on the road? My logic was that it was better to pass them than to hang behind the cart where the pony would not be able to see me, but would be able to hear my truck--but perhaps I'm mistaken?

  • #2
    I believe you should treat the horse and carriage as you would another car, using safe "Rules of the Road". You pass wide and slow where it is permitted, leaving plenty of room before returning to your lane. Even going slow, you do NOT pass on double yellow lin3s, blind curves, or quickly to get past before oncoming traffic arrives.

    It sounds like you did things politely, but encountered a REALLY crabby cart driver! Animal on the road knows you are back there, but should not be bothered by it in most cases.

    Locally, most car drivers are pretty nice. Motorcycles and farmers with machinery are also. We are now encountering more can't wait or slow down, unsafe, ignorant drivers, so we are trying to be pro-active in preventing issues. I have a bike flag way out to the side so they don't get close beside us. We wear bright, reflective safety vests, have a bike flat upright and SMV triangle sign. A second lime sign says "Please pass wide and slow. Thanks"

    Still it seems some folks just don't see us to slow down or hurry to pass. We almost got rear-ended by a phone user before she stopped fast, 2ft behind us! Another driver , Ashemont on COTH, did get rear-ended in her carriage. Wrote about it after healing. Another driver passed us fast, swung back into our lane almost hitting the horses!! No reason, no traffic, just stupid. Husband swung the horses over fast, but it was close.

    I hear equally scary stories from bike riders, not given any road room or space when being passed. And sadly, several get hit each year, with fatalities. As a car driver, both bike and horse folks are often not very visible ahead or coming behind them. For some reasom the SMV triangles give no distance perception in relation to speed of travel. I can be RIGHT ON TOP OF farm machinery even well marked, in an instant. Probably the same for drivers and carriages with triangles.

    Here in Michigan, a horse and carriage is a road vehicle like any other, so they need to obey traffic laws, get the same respect from any motorized vehicle meeting them on the road.

    Sorry you met a jerk on a carriage, you probably did everything right. Most of us wave cheerfully and smile because we are out enjoying the day! Thanks for being a nice driver!!
    Last edited by goodhors; Jul. 17, 2017, 11:32 AM.


    • #3
      What goodhors says

      Sadly these days drivers have so little experience with horsedrawn vehicles they generally zoom past just as if they are passing another car... a car which will hardly ever "spook" into their lane, as a horse/pony may do.

      The driver of the cart might have had a bad experience & perhaps lumps all drivers of cars into that bag?
      I drive (pony to cart) sometimes with a friend who regularly curses & flips off any car that passes us, no matter the speed.
      Of course she does this in her car too, so.......
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        I don't understand why the driver of the cart got so snarky. I drove on the road all the time, since that was my only option, and I always preferred that cars pass me, slowly and with plenty of room, rather than hang behind me so I had to keep an eye on what they were doing. I only had one bad experience in 13 years of driving in my neighborhood, and I'm sure that jerk was someone who didn't live in my neighborhood.



        • #5
          I prefer slow, smooth, and wide. Dropping to a complete crawl can make some horses nervous as it is as if something is stalking not-quite-stealthily behind. Big gear shifts are also suspicious. I was with a client and her horse and had a tractor coming behind us, waved them ahead and he dropped gears to slow down and the engine revved really high, which unnerved the horse because the sound changed as he was coming alongside the cart. Had another on a lawnmower that stopped it as we approached and then turned it back on when we were only 15' past. Would have been better off if it was left running!

          I don't see why your passing would have warranted such a reaction, especially if, the driver chose to be rude when the animal didn't care.

          But slow, wide, and with as little change in engine noise as possible is great.


          • #6
            I've spent a fair amount of time on the roads in NE Indiana Amish country, both in a car and buggy.

            Slowing down to a crawl probably made the driver wonder WTH you were going to do. Your truck and trailer isn't a big deal to the average Amish horse, not nearly as much as you think. There's no reason to crawl. Pass at a reasonable speed and don't dawdle. If the horse is inclined to be jumpy, you lingering next to him isn't going to help matters. It's just more time for him to jump into your truck.

            Most people here slow a enough to not rear end the buggy and just pass the horse, assuming they can see oncoming traffic clearly. The horses and drivers share the roads with plenty of semis and other traffic. It doesn't bother them like it does English people.

            Unless you actually hit the buggy (please opt for the ditch & not my buggy if you start passing and see oncoming traffic!), the lycra clad cyclists are a bigger issue than motorized traffic. My mare had no issues with trucks, harleys, semis, etc., but got looky at 10 speeds ...and the yellow lines in the middle of the road. Most of the horse pastures are adjacent to the road, so the horses hear cars almost since birth.
            Visit my Spoonflower shop


            • #7
              I'm a new driver but have encountered rude car drivers since I'm forced to use a well traveled road to get to the back roads I want to use. We live in Pennsylvania and the law states that horses and buggies have the right of way. That doesn't mean that we take advantage Last week, I was coming home and a driver zoomed up behind us and then around. Usually we encounter nice people and I always wave to thank them for their courtesy. Needless to say, I did not thank him. Also in PA, you are not supposed to wave a vehicle on around you. If there is an accident, you could be held liable.