Be careful of farm equipment on roadways this spring

farm-droughtRaising food on a farm often calls for moving tractors and other equipment on roadways during the spring, summer and fall.

“Some farmers have different pieces of land that are separated, and they have to travel down roadways with their equipment in order to plant or harvest their crops,” explained Jimmy Maass, safety manager for Virginia Farm Bureau.

Most farm equipment travels slower than 20 mph and does not stop and start as quickly as a car. As soon as a driver spots farm equipment or a slow-moving vehicle emblem, he or she should slow down to the speed of the equipment, usually between 15 and 20 mph, and maintain a generous following distance.

“The closure distance between a car traveling at 55 mph and a tractor traveling at 15 mph can be extremely short,” Maass said.

Do not pass farm equipment—or any vehicle—in a no passing zone.

Some equipment requires the operator to swing wide to make a turn, so a farmer may be pulling off to the side of the road to make a turn, not indicating that traffic should pass.

“Use extreme caution if you decide to pass farm equipment,” Maass said. “If the equipment is being followed by an escort vehicle, you should never pass that vehicle; treat it as if it were part of the farm equipment.”

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