Their View: Exercise caution on rural roadways

Agriculture is the No.1 industry in Pennsylvania, and many Pennsylvanians would like it to remain a viable industry far into the future.

The Centre County Farm Bureau is celebrating Rural Roads Safety Week April 12 through 18. With spring’s arrival, warmer temperatures and longer days, farmers are heading to the fields to plant their crops across Pennsylvania. As a result, residents in rural areas will see more tractors and large planting equipment on local roads.

We encourage all motorists to be aware of farm equipment as they travel in rural areas this spring and all year long.

As we travel back roads in spring, we often marvel at nature’s beauty yet we sometimes forget about potential hazards. When driving on rural roads, motorists must remain alert for large and often slow-moving equipment.

Here are a few simple steps that can help drivers stay safe when operating vehicles on our rural roads:

•  Don’t rush. If you drive on rural roads, chances are good that you will encounter farm equipment. Avoid rushing and allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely. This is especially important while traveling from April to November.

•  Pass with care. Pass farmers with caution. Be observant of oncoming traffic and of other vehicles that may try to pass. Never pass when curves or hills block your view of oncoming vehicles, in a “No-Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection. Also be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the right to make a wide left turn.

•  Be patient. Farmers are not operating equipment on rural roads to slow other drivers down intentionally; they are working to provide a safe food supply. Whenever possible, farmers will pull off the road to allow others to pass.

•  Slow down. The orange triangular slow moving vehicle emblem warns drivers of a slow vehicle. All farm equipment traveling at speeds of 25 mph or less are required to be marked with an SMV emblem. Once you see it, slow down immediately.

Farmers do have a legal right to operate their vehicles on rural roads, so the key to safely sharing the road is patience, courtesy and caution. To enable all of us to continue to have a plentiful supply of inexpensive food and enjoy the beauty of our country side, it is necessary for farmers to use the roads to conduct their business.

On behalf of the Centre County Farm Bureau, I encourage all residents to be aware of farm equipment during their travels on rural roads. By working together, we can make the trip safe for motorists and farmers. I hope you have a safe and happy spring.