It’s that time of year, when rural roads begin to fill up with large equipment as the busy harvest season begins. Unfortunately, it is also the time when law enforcement officials report an increase in accidents between farm equipment and other vehicles. In order for farmers and motorists to share the road safely, it is import that they each assume responsibility for taking extra safety precautions.

Some of the worst accidents occur when vehicles are passing farm equipment. In this situation, it is important that motorists make sure that the road is wide enough to safely pass farm equipment. They also should be on the lookout for anything that would cause farm machinery to move to the center of the road. These include things like mailboxes, bridges, or road signs.

Farmers need to make sure that all their warning lights, flashers, and slow moving emblems are in working order, clean, and easily visible. Remember, warning lights and flashers do little good if they are covered in dust. Aside from keeping equipment in good working order, there are other general safety rules that farmers should adhere to in order to reduce the chances of being involved in accident.

  • Always listen for approaching cars.
  • Keep in mind that cars travel three to four time faster than tractors.
  • Do not use a cell phone or two-way radio while traveling on public roads.
  • Always slow down on curves or hills.
  • Look out for pedestrians and animals that may dart onto the road.
  • As much as possible, try to avoid traveling during periods of high traffic.

Motorists also need to do their part when traveling on public roads alongside tractors or other farm equipment by keeping the following in mind:

  • Tractors and other machinery can enter the roadway unexpectedly from a field or driveway so it is important to always keep an eye out for them.
  • Since farm machinery travels slower than other traffic, motorists should take this into account in order to avoid hitting machinery from behind.
  • Machinery operators are not always able to see motorists because equipment or loads can block their vision.
  • Remember, if you can’t see the driver, the driver cannot see you.
  • Just because machinery is traveling partly on the shoulder doesn’t mean that it can’t move quickly off that shoulder and take up more of the road.
  • Extra-wide machinery often takes up more than one lane of traffic.

Sharing the roadways can lead to frustration on the part of both farmers and motorists. However, with a little patience and a lot of caution, everyone can remain safe and arrive at their destination in one piece.