As we come to the end of the week, we want to salute America’s farmers by sharing this safety information.  Farmers know all the hazards of farming; however, this tip is for drivers that are traveling down rural roads, (two-lane), rather than freeways.  We must watch for farmers driving equipment that may take up a lot of the road; of course, they can’t drive at the speed of a car, so think about these things the next time you see one of our nation’s farmers going about his daily routine, driving from one location to another, and causing you to slow down.

We want to focus on Rural Roadway Safety issues for farmers and all people driving on America’s rural roadways. Today’s busy lifestyles seem to have people on the road, in a hurry to get at super-highway speed, but America’s rural roadways cannot compete for that type of speed and therefore present several safety hazards to contend with.

On rural roads, drivers will come up on large farm equipment moving slowly from field to field and taking up a large portion of roadway.  Roads that were designed decades ago can be narrow and winding, constructed of gravel, and have unguarded intersections and railroad crossings.

Taking the attention of the driver off the roadway and diverting it to other items is dangerous on four lane roadways, and it can be just as deadly on rural roads.  People can be too easily distracted from the main responsibility of driving while texting or using hand-held and wireless phones, operating laptop computers, reading, or visiting with passengers in the vehicle.

Farm equipment needs to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that all lighting and markings are in working order and visible to the motoring public. Their equipment should have a SMV sign on the back, designating a Slow Moving Vehicle.  Farm equipment operators need to be cautious when making left turns into fields and farmsteads. Farmers should also use turn signals when a tractor or combine is so equipped or use hand signals for older equipment.

Operators of farm equipment should always check behind before attempting a left-hand turn to be certain no vehicles are trying to pass them.  The motoring public needs to be aware that farm machinery will turn left into fields or farmsteads and to drive defensively when attempting to pass farm equipment.  Remember: drivers may only pass farm equipment in designated “passing” zones; it is illegal to pass farm equipment in “no passing” zones. It may be difficult for farmers making a left-hand turn to see passing vehicles in their rear view mirrors if those following vehicles are too close. Taking time to pass safely can be the difference between life and death.  (Just thinking about running into that equipment gives one the shivers.)

Leaving home a little earlier and allowing more time to make it to a destination can allow for a more pleasant drive that will be safer for drivers, passengers, and other vehicle operators who share the road.

Instead of complaining that you have to slow down, give that farmer a friendly wave and remember if it were not for him, you might not have that bowl of cereal for breakfast, (or ham and eggs), or that favorite cotton shirt you enjoy wearing.

Source: National Education Center for Agricultural Safety