Fall harvest is an exciting time of year for our rural area! It’s also one of the most dangerous as the days become shorter and growers put in longer hours to harvest crops. During this time, motorists are likely to encounter farm machinery on the road making fall harvest safety applicable to everyone, not just growers! Here are seven safety tips to keep in mind when you find yourself sharing the road with farm equipment and heavy machinery:
1. Slow Down and Maintain a Safe Distance
Farm equipment, such as tractors and combines, typically move at slower speeds than other vehicles. When you encounter farm equipment on the road, slow down immediately and maintain a safe following distance. Avoid tailgating, as farm machinery may need to make sudden stops or turns.
2. Be Patient
Be prepared for slower travel when sharing the road with farm equipment. Exercise patience, especially on narrow or winding roads. Avoid aggressive maneuvers, such as overtaking in no-passing zones or honking excessively.
3. Pass Safely and Legally
When it’s safe to pass farm equipment, do so with caution. Ensure you have a clear view of oncoming traffic, use your turn signal, and only pass when road conditions allow. Never pass on curves, hills, or intersections, as these areas may pose increased risks.
4. Watch for Turning and Wide Turns
Farm equipment often needs more space to make turns due to their size. Be mindful of this when approaching intersections or driveways. Farm machinery may also make wide turns, so give them ample room to maneuver safely. Last, remember not all farm equipment has turn signals. Be vigilant!
5. Be Cautious of Slow-Moving Vehicle Signs
Many farm vehicles display the triangular orange “Slow-Moving Vehicle” (SMV) sign on the rear. This sign indicates that the vehicle travels at a slower speed than regular traffic. When you see this sign, adjust your driving accordingly.
6. Be Mindful of Loose Debris
Farm equipment may occasionally drop debris onto the road, such as mud, rocks, or crop remnants. Be prepared to encounter such debris and adjust your speed and driving accordingly to maintain control of your vehicle.
7. Be Kind
Harvest is physically and mentally exhausting! Growers work in acres not hours, and they don’t quit until the job is done. A friendly smile or wave shows kindness and appreciation and can give a much needed boost!