As fall harvest is upon us, let’s all remember this little jingle, “Farmers are on the Go, please Share the Road.” With agriculture approaching their biggest season, we are all seeing more and more ag traffic on our local roads. We at the Shelby County Farm Bureau are urging you to remember that a drive in the country can be relaxing, but it can turn deadly in an instant.
Each spring, summer and fall, farmers are especially busy in their fields. Many fields that farmers use to grow crops or livestock are not adjacent and they must share the road with you. They have the same rights as everyone else to use the roads, but it takes some special driving savvy from everyone to share the road.
The National Safety Council has a few defensive driving steps for driving in farm country.
• Watch out for unexpected turns. The most common crash happens when motorists try to pass farm vehicles, especially as they are turning left. The tractor appears to be pulling to the right side to allow cars to pass but is really preparing to make a wide left turn. Think ahead and check the left side of the road for gates or driveways and watch closely for hand signals.
• Practice patience. Remember that tractors and equipment usually are not on the road for over a couple of miles. The time spent behind them often equals the time you would wait at a few traffic lights in town. Wait until you can safely pass.
• A matter of speed! Since many farm vehicles cannot travel more than 25 M.P.H., most cars rear-end farm equipment. Since it’s difficult to judge traffic speed from a distance, slow down as soon as you see an SMV emblem (orange triangle with a red border). When approaching a slow-moving vehicle, the distance between the two of you is closing at an average rate of about 59 feet per second.
• Look sharp in Amish Country. Use extra caution when driving in areas inhabited by Amish. Buggies are painted black and are especially hard to see at night. A collision with a buggy and its passengers is a recipe for disaster. Do NOT sound your horn. Instead, follow at a reasonable distance and then pass when you have good visibility and the road is clear.
When driving in the country, remember to practice these safety tips. Thank you for safely sharing the road with our farmers!