BLOOMINGTON – After a winter of fairly quiet country roads, traffic is starting to pick up across the area with the onset of spring planting season.
Motorists traveling in the rural areas need to be on the lookout for large farm equipment on the roads as farmers travel from one farm to another to plant this year’s corn and soybeans. Practicing safety can prevent accidents.
“The fastest farm equipment out there is only going about 30 miles an hour. I think that’s what shocks people,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative for Country Financial.
Drivers should slow down the second they see equipment ahead and use extreme caution if you must pass that equipment. Many of the farm accidents in recent years have involved someone passing a farmer on the road when it is not safe to do so.
“If you have to drive behind them for a couple of miles, it’s not going to delay your arrival to where you’re going that much,” Vanasdale added.
Newer farm equipment has plenty of reflective tape and flashing lights but older equipment often needs to be retrofitted. Also, farmers should be mindful of the most dangerous times for visibility which include sunrise and sunset.
In order to stay alert behind the wheel, growers should prevent fatigue by taking breaks and eating healthy snacks throughout the day. A quick nap wouldn’t hurt either if time allows.
Every piece of farm equipment must have a slow moving vehicle emblem which is considered an inexpensive safety feature.
“If you have older equipment with older SMV emblems, check to make sure they’re still reflective and that none of the pieces have peeled off.”
Country Financial has issued the following recommendations for drivers this spring:
-Follow state driving laws.
-Remember to decrease speed and approach agricultural equipment with care.
-Never pass farm equipment in a no passing zone.
-Remember farm equipment may be wider than what is visible from behind, and it may be difficult to see if traffic is approaching in the opposite direction.
-Maintain a safe following distance.
-Consider taking an alternative route during peak commuting times such as sunrise and sunset.
“We all share the responsibility of making our roads safe,” Vanasdale said. “We can do our part by driving defensively and avoiding dangerous situations as much as possible.”