As the weather starts to get cooler and the color of the leaves start to change, farmers will be preparing for harvest. Sheriff Matthew R. Melvin would like to remind you with agriculture approaching their biggest season, we will be seeing more and more ag traffic on our roads. Harvest can be an exciting time, but farm safety is always a main concern for farmers.
Whether you are directly involved in farming or just passing through the countryside, farm safety is very important. According to the National Safety Council, accidents involving a farm vehicle are five times more likely to produce a fatality than any other type of motor vehicle accident. Many fields that farmers use to grow crops are not adjacent and they must share the road with you. They have the same rights as everyone else to use the roads, but takes some special driving insight from everyone to share the road.
Sheriff Melvin would like to share a few defensive driving tips for driving in during harvest season.
• Leave some space and watch for unexpected turns! The most common crash happens when motorists try to pass farm vehicles, especially as they are turning left. The tractor appears to be pulling to the right side to allow cars to pass but is really preparing to make a wide left turn. Think ahead! Check the left side of the road for gates or driveways and watch closely for hand signals.
• Pass with extreme caution. Defensive driving is always key. If it appears that the coast is clear, after at least checking twice, pass with extreme caution. Give yourself plenty of room and time to get around the tractor and implement.
• A matter of speed. Since many farm vehicles cannot travel more than 25 mph, most cars rear-end farm equipment. It’s difficult to judge traffic speed from a distance, so slow down as soon as you see an SMV emblem (orange triangle with red border). When approaching a slow-moving vehicle, the distance between the two of you is closing at an average rate of about 59 feet per second. Pay attention and be alert!
• Practice patience. Remember that tractors and equipment usually are not on the road for over a couple miles. The time spent behind them often equals the time you would wait at a few traffic lights in town. Please wait until you can safety pass!
Sheriff Matthew R. Melvin encourages all citizens to do their part in being defensive drivers. Remember these safety tips when driving during harvest season. Please be patient and courteous to each other when driving. Sheriff Melvin and the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank you for sharing the road with our farmers!
Information from Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.