on Wednesday, March 4, 2020
By Michigan Farm News
Transporting agricultural machinery from one field to the next by way of public roads is a necessity for many in agriculture. Farm equipment operators must be aware of the hazard their use of public roads causes and take necessary precautions.
Motorists unfamiliar with slow moving agricultural machinery can make this a dangerous situation. The potential for an accident is high. Preventing accidents is everyone’s top priority.
The National Ag Safety Database (NASD) advises producers to stay mindful of these farm equipment road safety tips when you’re out and about.
Train equipment operators on proper machinery operation and use.
The operators should be licensed drivers and should know and obey the laws and rules of safe driving and of farm machinery operation on public roads. The operators must obey the same laws as motor vehicles: stopping at stop signs, signaling direction, obeying speed limits, etc.
Make Farm Equipment Visible with Lights and Flashers
Each tractor and piece of equipment must have the proper lighting to be transported or driven on public roads. Make sure these lights can be seen.
The American Society of Agricultural Engineers recommends that:
- Install two white headlights on front, as far apart as possible, and at the same level.
- Mount two flashing amber lights at least 42 inches high in both front and rear. These can be used as signal lights as well.
- Place on rear left at least one red taillight. If two red lights are used, mount the other as far right as possible.
- Mount two red reflectors that are visible from the rear. If towed or mounted equipment obscures the rear lights, mount two flashing amber lights on the equipment as far apart as possible. Modify older machines to conform to state lighting laws.
- Use slow-moving-vehicle (SMV) signs. This is the universal sign to warn motorists that a slow-moving-vehicle is ahead. Remember that SMVs are to be used on vehicles traveling slower than 25 mph.
- Apply reflective tape to machines to improve visibility for motorists at dusk.
Remember Your Farm Vehicle’s Size & Speed
- Be mindful of the height of your farm equipment and avoid power lines, low bridges and other overhead obstacles.
- Check your towed equipment, and make sure your load is balanced and securely mounted.
- Drive slow moving vehicles as far right as possible but stay on the road. Traveling on the shoulder can be dangerous if motorists may try to pass in hazardous situations. The shoulder can also be too soft or have ruts or potholes causing the operator to lose control.
- Slow down to let vehicles pass and get as far over as safely possible. If necessary, stop until all vehicles pass you.
- Use care when traveling on soft/gravel shoulders, narrow bridges, loose gravel, bumps and deep ruts. Your farm equipment will handle these conditions differently than most passenger vehicles.
- Whenever possible, avoid busy roads during high-traffic times.
- Use turn signals and hand signals whenever possible to communicate with fellow drivers.
- Obey all traffic laws.
Avoiding Distracted Driving…
Whether you’re driving a car, truck, a tractor or a combine avoid distractions and make safety a priority whenever you’re on the road. You may believe that distracted driving is “no big deal” and that “everyone does it from time to time,” but, your decision to take your eyes off the road could come with dire consequences.
According to the Insurance Information Institute 3,166 people were killed in 2,935 crashes involving distractions in 2017. Cellphone use was a factor in 14% of the 2,935 fatal distraction-affected crashes, representing 1.2% of the total 34,247 fatal crashes reported in 2017.
- 2.9 percent of drivers used handheld devices in 2017. Source: NHTSA
- In 2016, 14 percent of fatal car crashes involved drivers using cell phones. Source: III