By June Unruh
Delaware Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Committee’s “Rural Road Safety Campaign”
As Delaware farmers begin spring planting, we are asking motorists to take a few moments to review some very important safety measures for sharing the road.
As all motorists do, farmers perform safety checks on their equipment. One thing they check is the placement of the “Slow Moving Vehicle” (SMV) emblem on each piece of equipment they pull onto the road. Think of the SMV emblem as a warning to slow down. Tractor and combine windows must be washed to assure clear vision while operating machinery. The farmer also checks to see that all lights on the equipment are working properly.
Most people think farmers only need the highways in the fall, during harvest, but we’re on the road at least nine months of the year, maneuvering in traffic. We need to use those roads to do our jobs, to get from one field to another. Farming is a weather-driven occupation. Sometimes we must be on the highway even if it is a weekend.
For motorists, a good understanding of farm equipment sharing the road is a must to insure their safety. Here are just a few important points to keep in mind:
- Pay attention. When you are not focused solely on the road, you increase your chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon slow-moving farm equipment.
- Slow down when you see the SMV emblem. It is difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in, especially at night.
- Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there.While most operators do check behind them, their main focus is on the road ahead. Farm equipment can be very loud, so the driver may not hear your vehicle.
- Be patient.Don’t assume that a farmer can move over to let you pass. Driving on the shoulders may not be safe.
- Watch for hand signals. Don’t assume that a slow-moving vehicle pulling to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is going to let you pass. Make sure the driver sees you before you try to pass. Some equipment needs extra room to make a wide left turn into a driveway or field.
- Pass with extreme caution.Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the farm equipment you are passing. Don’t pass near a curve, hill, intersection, bridge, or railroad crossing.
- Remember, farm equipment cannot stop or slow down as quickly as an automobile. Don’t drive right behind farm equipment. Stay a safe distance away.
These warnings have a personal meaning for me. When one of my neighbors tragically lost his life while driving a tractor on a rural road, I initiated a “Rural Road Safety Public Awareness” campaign two years ago through the Delaware Farm Bureau and Delaware State Grange. I chair the Rural Road Safety Campaign for the DFB’s Promotion and Education Committee which has worked to educate farmers and the general public about the need to “share the road.” Our efforts culminated last year with a Delaware Ag Safety Conference in March. We won an award at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January 2018 for our efforts and just completed our second annual safety conference.
While driving this spring, please watch for the bright yellow field safety signs we have distributed to help warn motorists that equipment is working nearby and may be crossing the road.
On behalf of family, friends and neighbors who are farmers, I ask all drivers to be aware of our slow moving equipment and please “Share the Road.”