With harvest season in full swing, drivers on rural roads will be encountering more heavy equipment on their daily commutes. Just as it is their responsibility to respect farmers on the road, it is the responsibility of all combine, tractor, and truck operators to make safe driving choices that keep everyone out of harm’s way.
In offering a checklist to ensure your harvest goes smoothly and safely this year, the Soybean Checkoff emphasized that all vehicles traveling less than 25 miles per hour should be outfitted with a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back. That applies to both a vehicle and any equipment being pulled behind.
The familiar bright orange triangle is a simple way for farmers to notify surrounding cars that they are traveling slower than general traffic. Ohio State University Extension reminds that it takes less than 6.5 seconds for a car traveling 60 miles per hour to cover 400 feet and meet a tractor moving at 20 miles per hour.
In addition to signage, working lights are critical to remain visible to other drivers. Do a check before you hit the road for the day, especially if you will be driving around or after dusk. Vehicle light requirements vary from state to state. This can also be a good time to check that mirrors and tires are in good condition.
Easy and alert
Navigating roads with large equipment can be difficult, so to prevent delays, plan your route ahead of time. Check traffic reports to avoid construction and other road blockages. Also consider the width of the roads you need to travel and any overhead lines, trees, and bridges to make sure you can safely and efficiently get to where you need to go, especially if hauling a trailer.
Finally, just as with any driving, it’s critical to be alert. Operating heavy equipment when tired can be particularly dangerous. Distracted driving is too often the cause of farm equipment collisions, and long days doing a repetitive task can only exacerbate drowsiness. Taking 10 to 15 minutes for a break every 2 to 2.5 hours can help avoid an accident and get everyone home safely.