Monday, September 21, 2009

Roadway Safety is a Shared Responsibility

Though I generally can move my tractors over the road from field to field without incident, I do encounter the occasional impatient driver. I’ve been passed after signaling a left turn and around curves, forced onto narrow shoulders, honked at, and been shown not-so-polite gestures of disapproval. It can be frustrating (as this post recounts)! I have also been on the other side of the tractor, so to speak. I too have been in a hurry to get someplace only to find myself “stuck” behind a farmer on the road. Who is right and who is wrong when vehicles and farm equipment find themselves travelling the same roadways?

National Farm Health & Safety Week is being observed September 20-26. This year’s theme, “Rural Roadway Safety…Alert, Aware, and Alive”, speaks to the responsibility of both farmers and the public alike to keep our roads safe for travel and transport. Collisions between agricultural equipment and vehicles are far too common on our rural roadways and often result in injuries or fatalities. We all must accept our shared responsibility to lessen the frequency of these dangerous accidents.

Farmers have a responsibility to display slow moving vehicle signs on tractors and equipment, properly use caution and signal lights, tightly secure loads, and only travel roadways in low light conditions if adequate lights and reflectors make the equipment clearly visible from front, back, and side. We farmers also need to extend a little courtesy and when possible allow following drivers the space to make a clear, safe pass.

Likewise, we need our commuting friends to be alert and aware when encountering our machinery on the roadways. Keep in mind that many rural roads are hilly, curvy, or have narrow shoulders, and that you can quickly meet agricultural equipment without much warning. Always be cautious in such areas were the terrain limits your long range visibility. Please slow down and maintain a healthy distance behind us until it is safe for you to pass. Oftentimes we can see obstacles ahead that you cannot or cannot safely maneuver our equipment onto the shoulder, so please be patient. Use caution and “time” your pass-by wisely if you are approaching us in the opposite lane, especially if narrow or rough shoulders will limit our abilities to give each other more space.

Patience, cooperation, and common sense are virtues we all need to practice when traveling the roadways, whether we’re in a car, a truck, or a tractor. So let’s stay alert and aware so we call all stay alive!

To learn more about roadway safety, check out The National Educational Center for Agricultural Safety and The Alabama Farmers Federation's Farmer at Work Program.

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