How to Safely Share the Road With Farm Equipment
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During the Spring and Fall, the volume of farm equipment appearing on the road tremendously increases. Farmers are working hard to plant and harvest their crops in a very narrow window of time. They rely on large equipment designed to aid them in these tasks, equipment that is not designed to match the speed of a common automobile on the road. Generally, this equipment will be travelling no more than 30 mph and approaching them too quickly may occur faster than anticipated. Keep in mind that this is a very dangerous time for the farmer as well. According to NC Department of Transportation, in 2018 there were 220 farm equipment related accidents on the roads in North Carolina. That’s at least one every other day!
There are several key principles you need to follow to safely navigate these types of situations. Often times it may seem easy to pass a tractor without even slowing down, but remember that the equipment operator may not be able to see you as easily. Always slow down for farm equipment and give the farmer a chance to be aware that you are behind them. They may pull over for you and let you by, but don’t immediately assume that is what they are doing. Often times larger equipment need to make wide turns, so they may veer off to the side of the road just before making the turn. Mistaking this for pulling over could be costly. New equipment may come with traffic signals, but older equipment may require the operator to use hand signals. Be aware that a hill or a curve may hide an approaching vehicle in the other lane. Never maneuver to pass unless you are certain it is safe. Above all, be patient. Everyone involved wants to get to their destination safely and patience goes a long way to make that happen.
- Be patient
- Keep your distance
- Watch for the farmer’s signals