(NewsUSA) - The onset of harvest season means increased farm equipment traffic sharing the road with other vehicles, as farmers move their heavy equipment from field to field. These specialized, heavy-duty vehicles are not as maneuverable as your average sedan, so it is important for the farm workers who operate them and the drivers who share the road to pay attention to some important safety tips.
"The most important thing a farmer can do during harvest season when they're transporting their equipment from field to field is to have a plan," said Curt Blades, senior vice president of agriculture services at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), an organization dedicated to supporting North America's manufacturers of construction and agricultural equipment.
A recent study from the University of Iowa Great Plains Center for Agriculture found that roads with higher speed limits and roads with limited visibility, such as narrow, hilly, or curvy roads, have a higher instance of traffic accidents between motor vehicles and farm equipment. The study also found that approximately one-third of accidents occurred in urban zip codes. Given the size and nature of the agricultural equipment in use today, these accidents can cause serious injuries.
Maximizing the safety of farmers in their equipment has long been a priority of AEM. This extends to keeping drivers on the road safe as well. So AEM would like to remind drivers and farmers of the following:
- Be Aware. "Drivers should be aware that they may encounter farm equipment on rural roadways," Blades said. "If they see a flashing light on a piece of equipment, just slow down and give them space."
- Be Predictable. "A farmer wants to know if you want to pass them," Blades continued. "If you can't see their mirrors, or inside the cab, they can't see you. You need to be predictable while driving and interacting with farm equipment."
- Be Patient. "A farmer will have a good indication of when it is safe for you to pass and will move over to create a clearer passageway," Blades finished.
AEM produces safety manuals for the industry that offer best practices for safe operation of off-road equipment. The manuals are available to purchase at https://shop.aem.org/promo/.