Roadway Safety For Farm Equipment Operators
Marion Barnes, Senior County Extension Agent
Spring and summer are some of the busier times of the year for farmers. Planting, cultivating, and tending crops and livestock, and making hay are just a few farm activities that usually mean increased travel time on roadways for agricultural equipment operators. Farm equipment is becoming wider and larger, and many farmers tend fields at greater distances from the farmstead. Taking steps to ensure your farm equipment is more visible to motorists can make roadway travel safer for farmers and others. Most collisions between motor vehicles and slow-moving vehicles like farm equipment occur during daylight hours on dry roads, and the most common are rear-end collisions and side-swipes or left-turn collisions.
A 2016 University of Iowa College of Public Health study found that states with more comprehensive lighting and marking policies for farm equipment had lower rates of farm/ vehicle crashes on their roadways. One of the significant challenges with farm equipment on roadways is that machinery is large and tends to move slowly. That makes it more difficult for motorists to see and judge the speed of farm equipment. Increasing visibility with lighting and markings on farm equipment can make the interaction between farm equipment and motorist safer.
What can you do to increase the visibility of your farm equipment and stay safe on the roadway?
Perform a full equipment inspection and ensure all equipment lighting is in working order before traveling on the roadway.
Make sure all operators are properly trained on the safety and operation of the equipment.
Use flashers and turn signals to indicate your intentions to motorists.
Use reflective tape to mark the extremities and show the size of your equipment.
Make sure all farm equipment has SMV emblems, and they are appropriately located and visible.
Replace old, faded, or damaged SMV emblems with newer, brighter, more reflective versions.
Consider using an escort/ pilot vehicle when transporting or driving large, wide equipment on the road.
Avoid moving farm equipment on roadways at dusk or dawn and other times of limited visibility.
Avoid congested and high-traffic areas. Choose an alternate route if possible.
Stay alert to hazards such as soft shoulders, overpasses, overhead power & communication lines, low hanging tree limbs, potholes, narrow bridges, etc.
Obey all traffic laws and signs.
Do not obstruct the flow of traffic. If safe to do so, let motorist pass safely. Use extreme caution when entering or re-entering the road with farm equipment.
By observing a few simple precautions, obeying traffic laws, and thinking and driving “defensively,” you can make roadway travel safer for motorists, yourself, and your farm equipment.
For more information on farm safety topics, contact your local Clemson Extension Service Office.
Resources: Information for this article was taken in part from the National Ag Safety Database, Safety on the Roadways, Farm Safety Association (FSA), Guelph, Canada.
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