Commentary: Safely share the road with farm equipment in Delaware

Farmers are back in the fields after a wet early spring, and that means they will be on the roads, too. Most people think farmers only need the highways in the fall, during harvest, but we’re on the road at least nine months of the year, maneuvering in traffic. We need to use those roads to do our jobs, to get from one field to another. Farming is a weather-driven occupation. Sometimes we must be on the highway even if it is a weekend.

Delaware Farm Bureau asks that motorists remember to share the road and allow farmers’ slow-moving, large equipment to get from one field to another safely.

June Unruh

Equipment operators understand that you want to get to your destination as soon as possible, and they’ll pull over when they can do so safely to allow you to get by. However, road shoulders are often soft, wet or steep or obstructed by mailboxes and may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle.

It is important not to assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must execute wide left-hand turns. If you are unsure, check the operator’s hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle may turn.

Other safety tips to remember are:

• Pay attention. When you are not focused solely on the road, you increase your chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon slow-moving farm equipment.

• Slow down when you see the slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem. It is difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in, especially at night.

• Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there. While most operators do check behind them, their main focus is on the road ahead. Farm equipment can be very loud, so the driver may not hear your vehicle.

• Pass with extreme caution. Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the farm equipment you are passing. Don’t pass in designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure or tunnel.

• Remember, farm equipment cannot stop or slow down as quickly as an automobile. Don’t drive right behind farm equipment. Stay a safe distance away.

On behalf of family, friends and neighbors who are farmers, I ask all drivers to be aware of our slow moving equipment and please “Share the Road.”

June Unruh is chairwoman of Delaware Farm Bureau Promotion & Education.

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