Share roads with farm vehicles

The Centre County Farm Bureau is celebrating Rural Roads Safety Week starting Sunday.

The purpose of Rural Roads Safety Week is to alert drivers that large, slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment are once again traveling on rural roads across the state. We’re urging motorists to use caution when approaching farm vehicles and be patient if they are delayed. Centre County Farm Bureau notes that while it’s timely to remind motorists to be cautious now that spring planting is underway, practicing safe driving habits on rural roads is important all year.

Drivers need to keep their guard up throughout the planting, growing and harvesting seasons by reducing speed and being more aware of other motorists. We believe crashes can be prevented if farmers and motorists look out for one another on our rural roads. If motorists hear our message and follow safe driving tips, costly crashes can be avoided and lives can be saved.

We encourage motorists to pay attention and to expect slow moving vehicles on the roads. Recognize the slow-moving vehicle emblem, which is an orange triangle with a red border, on the rear of all vehicles or equipment that consistently travel at speeds of 25 mph or less. Often, the acres that farmers are working are scattered, requiring them to move their equipment across Pennsylvania’s roadways. Farmers will make every effort to accommodate motorists. Machine operators will drive on the shoulder of paved roadways, whenever possible, in order to give other motorists a better view of road conditions and enough room to pass slower moving farm vehicles. Please keep in mind that if the shoulder is soft, wet or steep, the farmer cannot move aside because it would cause his equipment to tip. If the farmer cannot pull off the road and you feel you must pass, please do so with caution. Never assume a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or let you pass. Due to the size of some farm equipment, the farmer must move to the right before executing a wide left turn.

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 our rural roads. By working together, we can make the trip safe for motorists and farmers. I hope you have a safe and happy spring.

Evalene C. Ishler is a member of the Centre County Farm Bureau.