By Libby Rosequist
The Erie County Farm Bureau is recognizing Rural Roads Safety Week from April 18-24, by encouraging county motorists to travel safely on roadways, not just through the spring, but throughout the entire year.
“You may have noticed the farmers are retuning to the fields to begin planting crops,” Nick Mobilia, farm bureau legislative director, said. “This is one of the busiest times of the year for farmers, but we need to keep an eye out for them all year round.”
As the new season is underway, tractors, farm trucks, wagons and many other large equipment will be traveling on the roadways. These vehicles can pose a threat when safe driving practices are not observed.
“We want to stress the importance of being an observant driver because it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field if a car is traveling 55 mph and is coming up on a farm vehicle only able to go 15 mph,” Mobilia explained.
It is important to reduce vehicle speed where large farm machinery might be encountered.
Always slow down immediately when a Slow Moving Vehicle, SMV, emblem is attached to a farm vehicle.
“The SMV emblem is an orange triangle with a red border and is a universal sign to signify all drivers must slow down when near it,” Mobilia said. “We have all seen the sign but not everyone knows what it means. Always take caution when passing a vehicle, especially one with an SMV emblem.”
Drivers of slow-moving farm vehicles can accommodate motorists by pulling onto the shoulder of a paved roadway to give the other drivers a better view of road conditions or room to pass.
If a shoulder is soft, wet or steep, the farmer cannot move over due to the increased chance of causing the equipment to roll over.
“If the farmer is unable to safely pull his or her vehicle off the road, and you feel you must pass, please do so with caution,” Mobilia said.
The Erie County Farm Bureau encourages all residents to be aware of farm vehicles and equipment during rural road travel.
“By working together we can ensure the safety for both motorists and farmers,” Mobilia said.