Share the road safely
While tractors do most of their work in the fields, they do spend some time on the road. This may cause frustration for drivers, but it is necessary as farmers move around from place to place. Their time on the road has increased over the years as farms have become larger and more spread out.
At this time of year, you should expect more agricultural traffic on the roads, even though farmers have completed most of their harvest. This traffic does create some safety issues, such as differences in speed. Most farm machinery travels at speeds of 25 mph or slower, while other vehicles operate at much higher speeds. The speed difference should alert drivers to slow down when approaching farm machinery — especially from the rear.
When you meet farm machinery on the road, it’s fairly easy for the farmer to see you and for you to see them. However, visibility is not as good when approaching a combine or tractor from behind. Every piece of farm equipment should have a reflective slow-moving vehicle sign affixed to it. It’s also best for machinery to have lighting on it as well.
There are some safety concerns drivers must remember when looking to pass farm machinery. First, when approaching from behind, it’s important to slow down to the speed of the implement in front of you before attempting to pass. Why is this important? It is difficult to know when an implement will turn off the road because of the number of field driveways, farm driveways and regular intersections along the road. And never pass in a no-passing zone.
Farm equipment is often oversized, which means it takes up a lot more room on the road. Some of the implements you share the road with cannot fit into one lane and will reach over the center line or the shoulder of the road. When implements are this large, they sometimes need to swerve out into the oncoming lane to avoid striking mailboxes, reflectors or road signs. You need to share the road and allow them the room they need to operate safely.
Another fact you should consider is that farm implements must often make wide turns to navigate narrow driveways or country roads effectively. That means that while their left turn signal is on, they may need to get over to the far right of the road before making a left turn. The opposite is also true: They may need to safely get over to the left side to make a right turn.
Many accidents between vehicle drivers and farmers occur when drivers try to pass while the farmer makes a left turn or when drivers rear-end an implement because they don’t brake soon enough.
Remember, even if you need to slow down to 20 mph and follow a tractor for two miles, it only takes about six minutes, or the equivalent of waiting for two stoplights.
For more information on how Columbus Community Hospital’s Occupational Health Services team helps farmers in the fall and year-round, visit columbushosp.org.