Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. As farmers head out to their fields, drivers may need to add a few more minutes to their travel time in the event they encounter a tractor or other slow-moving farm equipment. Please be alert, patient, and courteous to ensure both farmers and motorists make it home safely to their families at night.
The 2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23 deaths per 100,000 workers. For this reason, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week. This annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.
“Our local farmers will be moving agricultural machinery along county roadways in order to access farm fields,” said Sheriff Luke Hennen. “It is now even more important to be alert, be patient, and share the road.”
One of the most dangerous aspects of farm equipment out on the roads is when vehicles try to pass them. Passing in a “no-passing zone” is not only dangerous, but also illegal. Motorists must wait until it is legal and safe to pass. If you must pass, please be extra cautious, as tractors and other farm equipment may be wider than they appear from behind and may require ample space in both lanes.
Tips for MOTORISTS to stay safe during harvest season.
- Slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment. Don’t assume the operator can see you.
- Farm machinery may enter the roadway at any time, so slow down if you see equipment traveling towards or adjacent to a roadway.
- Do not pass farm machinery unless it is safe and legal to do so.
- Watch for debris dropped by trucks. It is safer to brake or drive through debris than to veer into oncoming traffic or off the road.
- Farm machinery is typically not equipped with turn signals, so watch for unanticipated left turns and increase your following distance at night.
- Farm equipment can be wide, sometimes taking up most of the roadway. Expect them to take wider turns and even travel in both lanes to properly turn.
- Don’t pull in front of farm equipment and suddenly slow down. The tractor may be towing heavy machinery, making quick stopping impossible.
- Watch for hand signals and other ways a farmer may try to communicate with you. They have a higher vantage point and will often signal to you when it’s safe to pass.
Tips for FARM EQUIPMENT OPERATORS:
- Ensure your tractor or implement has a “slow-moving vehicle” triangle affixed to the rear of the equipment or implement.
- Attach reflective tape or decals, especially at the widest point of the equipment or implement.
- Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible.
- Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.
- Properly secure your load.
For more information on National Farm Safety and Health Week and additional safety resources, please visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety website: https://www.necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek/
As always, please feel free to reach out using one of the following methods: by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at (952) 496-8625; via social media @sheriffhennen; or by mail at Scott County Sheriff’s Office, 301 Fuller Street South, Shakopee, MN 55379. You can also visit our website at https://www.scottcountymn.gov/.