2009-04-16 / Local & State

Farm Bureau Celebrates Rural Roads Safety Week

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

With spring's arrival, warmer temperatures and longer days, farmers are heading to the fields to plant their crops across Pennsylvania. As a result, residents in rural areas will be seeing more tractors and large planting equipment on local roads. The Fulton County Farm Bureau is encouraging all motorists to be aware of farm equipment as they travel in rural areas this spring, and all year long, during Rural Roads Safety Week April 19-25, 2009.

"As we travel back roads in spring, we often marvel at nature's beauty yet we sometimes forget about potential hazards," said Reed Englert, Fulton County Farm Bureau president. "While a common sight on the roads in springtime, farm tractors, trucks, wagons and large pieces of equipment can present a threat to the distracted driver. When driving on rural roads, motorists must remain alert for large and often slowmoving equipment."

Englert added that a few simple steps can help drivers stay safe when operating vehicles on rural roads:

Don't rush: If you drive on rural roads, chances are good that you will encounter farm equipment at some point on your route. Avoid rushing and allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely. This is especially important while traveling during the months between April and November.

Pass with care: If you feel you must pass the farmer, do so with caution. Be observant of oncoming traffic and for other vehicles that may try to pass. Never pass when curves or hills block your view of oncoming vehicles, you are in a "no passing zone" or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel. Also be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the right to make a wide left turn.

Be patient: Farmers are not operating equipment on rural roads to slow you down intentionally - instead farmers are working to provide a safe food supply. Whenever possible, farmers will pull off the road at the first safe opportunity so you can pass.

SMV = Brake immediately: The orange triangular slowmoving vehicle (SMV) emblem warns drivers of a slow vehicle speed. All farm equipment traveling at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less are required to be marked with a SMV emblem. Once you see it, slow down immediately.

Remain visible: Don't assume that the farmer knows that you are driving near his vehicle. While most farmers will check behind them whenever possible, they are concentrating on keeping their equipment on the road and avoiding oncoming traffic. Before you pass, use your car's horn to let the driver know where you are. Farmers may not be able to hear you over their equipment noise.

Yield to wide vehicles: Sometimes farm equipment is wider than travel lanes. If you approach wide equipment and cannot safely stop, then pull off the road, turn around or back away safely so the equipment can pass you. Watch for pilot or escort cars which help to indicate an oversized vehicle - if you see one, pull off so the vehicle can pass you.

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