This early-season heat wave has really thrown most folks, animals and plants for a loop. People are out trying to plant gardens early, grass has greened, trees have bloomed, and animals have started …
This early-season heat wave has really thrown most folks, animals and plants for a loop. People are out trying to plant gardens early, grass has greened, trees have bloomed, and animals have started losing hair.
Unfortunately, we still have about a month until our last intended frost date, which means we could still get some unpredictable weather. However, now is an opportune time for farmers to start preparing fields for the upcoming growing season. This means that you will start to see more tractors and other slow-moving equipment on the road.
But what does that mean to you as a fellow driver? In general, when there is a vehicle that is moving slower than the speed limit, it can be a hazard to be aware of, especially when you come upon the vehicle suddenly. A lot of local roads, especially back roads, are narrow, are serpentine, have loose dirt or gravel as a base and have blind corners.
A lot of farming equipment is made to travel on the road with slight modifications, such as a hay tedder that folds back to be narrower for the road. But that’s not always the case, and drivers should give these folks enough room to maneuver, especially near an intersection where they might turn.
Some tips to keep in mind while sharing the road with a slow-moving vehicle:
Make sure you leave plenty of space between yourself and the slow-moving vehicle, so you can slow down to their speed. Remember, you will come upon them very quickly, as most will be driving 15 to 25 mph.
Don’t assume that an operator who is pulling to the right or far left in the other lane is moving over for you. They are probably swinging wide to make a turn, so be cautious.
If you plan on passing a slow-moving vehicle:
First, make sure they are aware of your presence; the sound of the tractor will make it hard for them to hear you coming.
Do not pass them if you can’t see around them, or if you are on a turn or rise in the road.
Do not pass if you’re not in a designated passing zone.
When you do pass, make sure to give the vehicle a wide berth, so you don’t accidentally catch on a piece of equipment.
If you can’t pass a vehicle, follow at a safe distance and put your four-way flashers on so that anyone coming up behind you knows that they should proceed with caution.
NEVER pass a line of cars following a slow-moving vehicle; they can see farther than you would be able to, and would be the first to pass if it’s safe to do so.
It’s this farmer’s take, having been in this situation as an operator, that the most important thing to keep in the back of your mind when you come upon one of these vehicles is that your car/truck is much more fortified and protective than a slow-moving vehicle will be if there is a crash.
More than likely, tractors will have a ROPS (rollover protective structure) to help prevent the driver from getting crushed if the tractor were to tip over.
However, if the operator doesn’t have a functioning seat belt or the tractor doesn’t have a ROPS, there’s very little to stop a fatal injury from occurring.
These folks are out there trying to grow food; the least everyone can do is remember to have patience and be cautious. Keep them safe.
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