Share the Road and Keep Safe During Harvest
It’s that time of year again! Farmers are hard at work, doing what they need to do to get crops out of the field and food on your table. Union County will be seeing a lot of tractor traffic! You may come across a large, slow piece of equipment that blocks the majority of the road. This can be frustrating, especially given that this always happens when you’re in a hurry to get to where you’re going. But for the farmer’s safety, other drivers’ safety, and your own safety, share the road and be cautious. I have some tips for when you encounter farm equipment on the road that could potentially save you or someone else from a collision
- Slow down. As soon as you see farm equipment, which usually has a large, orange triangle sign, flashing lights, or reflective material to identify it, begin slowing down. With farm equipment traveling 15-20 mph, a vehicle going 55 mph can rear-end equipment that is 300-400 feet away in just 5 seconds. Also stay slow when you’re passing, because turbulence from your car can cause the large equipment to swerve uncontrollably.
- Make sure the farmer can see you. The person operating the equipment is paying attention to multiple things at once. They are making sure they don’t hit an oncoming car, aren’t going into the ditch on the side of the road, don’t hit a mailbox, don’t hit a low hanging powerline, and much more. Stay a safe distance away so they know you are there without any part of the equipment blocking you from their view. And speaking of a safe distance…
- Stay back about 50 feet. Leave space, even when you’re passing because most equipment can’t stop quickly. Giving the farmer room gives them time to react.
- Watch for turns. Wide vehicles make wide turns. You may see farm equipment swing heavily left or right to make it into a driveway or road, which in some cases looks like the farmer is pulling over for you. If they are pulling over, they will likely give you a hand signal of some sort to go around. If they do not, wait to make sure they aren’t turning before you pass, because they may be turning left, putting you directly in harm’s way.
- Yield for wide vehicles. As I mentioned before, some equipment is wider than the road. If you are approaching wide equipment from the other side of the road, stop and pull over for it to safely pass.
- Pass carefully. Though you can pass slow-moving equipment in a no-passing zone, make sure you can see far enough ahead to know no oncoming cars are approaching. Equipment can also be wider than it appears from behind, so you could have less room than you think once you get beside the equipment.
Practice caution and patience so farmers can continue to grow the food on your table and you can continue with your day!