National highway safety standards require that slow-moving vehicles be marked with a distinctive sign, a large reflective triangle . This has become a problem for the Amish, a religious sect that uses horse-drawn buggies and wagons for transportation. The Kentucky Legislature has passed a law and sent it to the governor that would allow the Amish to mark their buggies in a different manner, as reported by the Associated Press.
The Amish believe the triangle symbolizes the Trinity and that using it as a warning device goes against their religious beliefs. The issue has been confronted by various states with Kentucky becoming the latest. The Amish have been permitted to use a combination of reflective tape and lanterns to comply with the law.
Many of the Amish own buggies and wagons that are black. All are slow moving. In low light conditions or at night, these vehicles become a road hazard . The people and animals involved are often horrifically injured or killed by collisions with motor vehicles whose drivers do not see the Amish vehicle.
The history of the Amish is a little over 300 years old. The Amish are an offshoot of the Mennonite religious tradition in Germany. The first Amish to be recorded in the U.S. emigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. A century later, a second migration of Amish from Europe arrived and settled in the Midwest. The various settlements, families and factions made several attempts to reconcile differences in beliefs but the sect never did so and remains divided to this day.
The religious beliefs of the Amish have resulted in a number of legal exemptions. Most of the Amish men, in wartime, claimed to be conscientious objectors. The Amish, in a Supreme Court ruling, are exempt from state education laws requiring school attendance past age 14.
Because of the strong community ties within the Amish communities, Congress has also exempted self-employed Amish from the payment of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Fox News reports a provision of the Obama health care law exempts the Amish communities from the mandate to buy health insurance.