As soon as the ground is ready to plant, farmers fill roads with tractors, combines, and other farm equipment as they prepare their fields. Some farm equipment can take up the whole road. That’s why both farmers and other drivers need to pay extra attention at planting time.
KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT
Before you take farm equipment on public roads, take a moment to review the requirements for farm implements on public roads in your state. Also, know how wide your equipment is. It could mean the difference between getting to a field safely versus hitting a bridge — or other drivers.
Consider performing an equipment inspection before using public roads.
- Ensure lights, flashers, and signals all work properly.
- Check wiring and connections.
- Make sure that the familiar slow moving vehicle sign can be seen.
- Inspect how hitched equipment may obscure lights and signage. The drivers behind you may not realize you’re making a left-hand turn if they can’t see your signals.
KNOW YOUR CONDITIONS
Understandably, you’re eager to take advantage of favorable planting weather. That’s why farmers often work before daybreak or after sunset — who knows when the next big rain will come. But the combination of fatigue and lack of light can combine to make you accident-prone.
One solution is to have a pilot vehicle travel with the tractor to warn oncoming traffic. At full speed on rural roads, farm equipment still travels only half as fast as passenger traffic. Pilot vehicles can create a buffer between traffic and the equipment using the road.
The following are tips for motorists for driving in areas where farm equipment on the road is common:
- Be alert and always watch for slow-moving vehicles, especially during planting and harvest seasons.
- Don’t tailgate. All it accomplishes is making the equipment driver stressed and distracted.
- Watch for turns. A farmer may use hand signals as well as blinkers. Farm machinery makes wide turns, and often directly into a field, where there is no obvious road.
- Be patient. Don’t assume the equipment operator can move aside to let you pass. The shoulder may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle.
- Slow down as soon as you see the triangular-shaped, red and fluorescent orange slow-moving vehicle emblem.