As fall harvest ramps up, drivers may notice a seasonal companion on the roadways — farmers moving massive machinery between fields.
“Row crop farmers have spent months cultivating corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Now, it’s time to get those crops out of the field and into the hands of people who depend on them. Farmers are providing for the folks they share the road with. Those drivers have places they need to get to safely, and their farmer friends do, too.
“We encourage all drivers, whether you’re in a car or a combine, to be alert, slow down and be patient. A little patience goes a long way as we share roads this harvest season.”
Parnell said farmers try to avoid moving machinery during high-traffic times and pull over to allow cars to pass. However, some congestion is inevitable due to speed limitations of farm equipment.
“We know our neighbors are in a hurry to get to school, work or other appointments,” Parnellsaid. “A few minutes is not worth endangering the life of yourself, the farmer or other drivers by passing on a solid yellow line, swerving around a tractor or approaching slow-moving vehicles at high speed.”
The Federation noted it takes just 5 seconds for a car moving 55 mph to close a gap the length of a football field with a tractor moving 15 mph.
To stay safe on the roads, drivers should:
• Slow down when they see a piece of agricultural equipment. Most farm equipment is designed to travel at speeds of only 15 to 25 mph.
• Watch for slow-moving vehicle (SMV) signs. These signs are orange triangles and arerequired for vehicles traveling less than 25 mph.
• Look for electronic or hand turn signals. Just because a tractor veers right does not mean the operator is pulling over to allow someone to pass. The size of farm equipment often dictates the necessity of wide turns.
• Pass farm equipment cautiously. Even when passing safely and legally, machinery may sway.
• Keep all tires on the road. Expect equipment operators to do the same. Driving with one set of tires on loose-surface shoulders increases risk of rolling over.
• Watch for flashing amber lights. This often marks the far right and left of farm equipment. Also watch for reflective tape marking extremities and sides of equipment.
• Remember agricultural vehicle operators have a right to drive equipment on the road.
National Farm Safety and Health Week is Sept. 17-23. Click here to learn more about farm safety priorities.