Farm Machinery Safety on Public Roads
While driving on the rural roads in Georgia, many motorists will encounter tractors or other farm machinery. Unfortunately, every year there are hundreds of accidents related to these encounters. According to the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, from 2013 to 2018 (most recent data available) there was a 54% increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents (364 in 2013 to 562 in 2018) involving farm machinery and other slow-moving vehicles. The majority of the accidents occur during planting and harvesting season when farmers are moving more machinery and equipment from field to field. Did you know rural roadways are typically more fatal than highways in Georgia, with one of the major contributing factors being speeding? Farm machinery often travels at speeds no higher than 25 mph. Vehicles approaching farm machinery at a speed of 60 mph can travel the length of a football field within seconds and have little time to react. Due to the dangers of these collisions, the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety offers drivers the following tips:
- Be patient: Don't assume that the farmer can always move aside to let you pass. Soft, damp or steep shoulders may not be able to support heavy farm equipment. The farmer will pull off the road at the first available safe location to allow you to pass. Even if you have to reduce your speed to 20 mph for two miles, your trip will only be extended by about six minutes.
- Yield to wide vehicles: Some farm equipment may be wider than the lane of travel. If you approach a piece of wide farm equipment traveling in the opposite direction and you cannot pass, pull off the road and stop, safely turn around or back up to a location that will allow the equipment to pass by.
- Pass with caution: If a farmer has pulled off the road to allow you to pass, or if the farmer cannot pull off the road and you feel you must pass, do so with caution.
- Be watchful of vehicles behind you that may also try to pass.
- If you must enter the oncoming lane of traffic, do not pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both you and the vehicle you will pass.
- Do not pass if you are in a designated "No Passing Zone" or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad-grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel.
- Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must execute wide left-hand turns. If you are unsure, check the operator's hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle might turn.
For those who will be operating farm machinery or slow-moving vehicles on the roads, the attached handout will provide more information on the steps you can take to stay safe.
Slow-Moving Vehicles. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF HIGHWAY SAFETY IN GEORGIA https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/slow-moving-vehicles/
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