As we transition into fall, it’s important to remember that more combines, tractors, and semis will be out on rural roads. With an increase of these slow-moving vehicles in transit, it’s important for motorists and farmers to know how to share the road.
Harvest Time: What to Know About Sharing the Road, Part I
In order to keep everyone safe, here are a few things for farmers to remember when traveling rural roads and highways:
- Be visible. Whenever you are on a road, make sure you have slow-moving vehicle emblems on the back end of all your machinery. Your headlights should be on and your hazards flashing. Also, if you are moving machinery late at night, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials suggests having someone follow you on the road. That way, your follow vehicle can also have their hazards on in an effort to warn other travelers.
- Be patient. If you are waiting to turn out of your field onto a highway and see a vehicle coming, wait for them before pulling out. It’s possible that the car won’t be able to stop in time or they might not see you until it’s too late.
- Be aware of what’s up ahead. If you are driving your machinery half on the road and half on the shoulder, the Indiana State Police advise you to make sure you’re looking ahead to see if there are any road signs, mailboxes, or embankments coming up. Give the cars behind you a warning—use your turn signal to let them know you are coming off the shoulder and onto the road.
- Check your equipment before you leave the farm. On Southern States’ website, they point out that safety should begin before leaving any farmstead or work site. Check the vehicle you are driving and any equipment being towed before traveling. Inspect your hitches, and always display the slow moving vehicle emblem in a prominent place on all off-road farm vehicles.
When it’s harvest time, farmers want to get their crops out as soon as possible. However, it’s important to know when to give yourself a rest. North Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant Robert Kennedy says that farmers must take the time to rest when they feel fatigued: “They [farmers] need to realize they need a break too, for their safety and others on the roadways.” It’s obvious that driving when tired is dangerous. Not only could you hurt yourself and your equipment if you fall asleep at the wheel, you could hurt other drivers as well.
Farming is a dangerous job. By looking out for yourself and other drivers, you can help rid the farming community of some of those dangers.
This is a two-part series on sharing the road during harvest season. In our next blog post, we will talk about how motorists can better share the road with farm equipment.
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