The Delaware Farm Bureau is urging farmers to take extra care during this time of intensive crop irrigation to avoid allowing their irrigation systems to spray on roadways.
“All of us are focusing on finishing off the most productive crops we possibly can. We want to encourage everyone to be good neighbors and considerate. One of the ways we, as farmers, can do that is to try our best to ensure our irrigation systems do not spray on Delaware roadways,” Delaware Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins said.
Safety hazards which arise from water on the road could include hydroplaning and traffic accidents due to slippery roads. Roads can quickly become slipperier than expected when the water from rain or an irrigation system mixes with the oils on the road. This is especially hazardous at night and for motorcyclists traveling the roadways. Delaware Farm Bureau Executive Director Don Clifton added, “I have often been surprised by a sudden burst of water on my windshield at night, but am unconcerned because I quickly know what happened, understanding how irrigation works. We can only imagine how disconcerting it can be to someone who may not recognize the circumstances. They might react in very unfortunate ways.”
The Delaware State Police reported 3,554 traffic accidents in 2021 from wet roadways, 19 of which included fatalities. Delaware’s Annual Traffic Statistical Report from 2021 prepared by the Delaware State Police and Delaware’s Information and Analysis Center goes on to state that 2,303 accidents occurred in rainy conditions, 10 of which included fatalities.
“With regards to the use of irrigation systems in Delaware, the Delaware State Police would encourage all farmers to be mindful of motorists traveling on roadways that are adjacent to their irrigated fields and crops. Wet roadways and windshields create hazards for motorists in vehicles and on motorcycles, leading to additional accidents,” Delaware State Police spokesperson Senior Corporal Leonard DeMalto said.
But the hazards don’t end with traffic accidents.
Another unintended concern could result from water on the roads – damage to the road itself. The pooling water that inevitably rests along roadsides or embankments can, overtime, weaken the base of the road. This can also happen as water seeps into cracks in the road, weakening those spots.
The Delaware Farm Bureau can be found online at www.defb.org.