MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio - A group of Amish taxi drivers, who serve the Amish in Middlefield, Ohio claim, in some cases, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is unfairly pulling them over for safety checks if they see Amish passengers in their transport vans.
Dale Eloph, who transports Amish passengers 10,000 miles every month, believes multiple drivers have been pulled over without probable cause, simply because Amish passengers can be seen inside the vehicles.
"They've been told to pull them all over, pull everybody over. 'If you see a hat or a bonnet, pull them over,'" said Eloph. "You can't just pull cars over just because there's a certain group of people in your vehicle."
Ohio Highway Patrol Public Affairs Commander Robert Sellers responded to the claims, telling News 5 it's all about safety when it comes to pulling over vehicles transporting eight passengers of more.
"There has not been any additional emphasis placed on any specific vehicle type," said Sellers.
"Roadway safety for all users is our priority."
"During the last 5 years there have been over 9,000 crashes involving passenger carrying vehicles that fall into this category."
"As a result of these crashes, over 4,400 people have been injured and 29 people have been killed."
Still, Eloph believes the increased scrutiny will make it tougher on Amish taxis drivers, who are already working on a thin profit margin.
He believes it will force some drivers out of business, limiting needed travel options for the Amish, who won't drive because of their faith.
"The people this affects the most really don't have a voice in the matter," said Eloph.
But Bob Comer, who's been an Amish taxi driver for eight years, said he understands the scrutiny leveled by the highway patrol when it comes to vehicle safety checks.
Comer said the demand for Amish transport continues to grow, and he believes there are drivers who are running unsafe vehicles.
Comer added safety requirements for Amish taxis drivers in Ohio is minimal, compared to standards in Pennsylvania, when it comes to vehicles transporting fewer than 15 passengers.
"No chauffeurs license in Ohio, you don't have to have it inspected, no registration, no nothing," said Comer. "There are some vehicles on the road that should be inspected and probably shouldn't be on the road."
Meanwhile Sellers further explained the highway patrol inspection process when it comes to vehicles carrying 8 passengers or more.
"The Patrol’s Office of Licensing and Commercial Standards inspected over 6,000 passenger carrying vehicles last year to ensure the safety of people transported, explained Sellers.
"This includes mandatory, post-crash and roadside safety inspections."
"Vehicles which fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA), or the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), are subject to mandatory and roadside inspections."