As warm weather arrives many farmers will be taking to the fields for planting season. Most farmers live on or near the land they farm; however, across the state of New York slow moving farm vehicles will be running on the road. Some of the most common pieces of farm equipment that motorists will encounter this spring are sprayers, tractors pulling planters, and trucks hauling agricultural products. These vehicles often travel no faster than 25mph. While most farmers and agricultural equipment operators will pull over so motorists can pass it may take time for them to find a safe place to do so. Be patient and we’ll all get to where we are headed.
All motorists and farmers need to be aware of each other on the highway all year long but especially more so during the spring planting season. According to the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), crashes involving agricultural vehicles were found to be five times more fatal than that of non-ag crashes. We want everyone to be safe including you and our farm team so here are a few things that we all need to be aware of this season.
Never pass with limited visibility or in a no-passing zone.
Be alert for farm equipment that may be turning left. Tractors not only turn onto roads or into driveways but can also turn into fields.
Slow down and increase following distance if you come upon equipment with an SMV emblem.
Machinery must display a slow moving vehicle emblem when traveling under 25 mph. In addition to the SMV emblem, tractors and machinery must also display a speed-appropriate speed identification symbol (SIS) when travelling between 25 and 40 mph.
Use proper lighting on farm equipment, including flashing amber lights in the front and rear. Use lights and flashers at all times of the day for increased visibility. Use of lights on tractors is required after dark and during times when visibility is reduced under 1000 feet.
Stay in the lane, do not drive equipment half on the shoulder and half on the road. A tractor can easily lose control on a soft shoulder. Most rural NY roadsides can cause potentially fatal rollovers for tractors.
Distractions can double your reaction time. Pay attention and keep your phone shut off while driving. Hands-free phones are legal to use but can still be a distraction.
Look down the road as far as possible to be aware of what is coming and increase your warning time.
As you’re traveling down the roads throughout New York this spring remember that the person up on the tractor could be a 3rd generation farmer with a family waiting for them to return home after a long day of work. And the lady driving behind the planter could be a single mom of two trying to get home. Whether you’re a motorist or the operator of an agriculture vehicle, be safe this planting season.
Written by: Heather Wasson