CAMP HILL, Pa. — Pennsylvania farmers are returning to their fields for spring planting, which means that drivers should be alert for large farm equipment on rural roadways.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and our partners in state government, are encouraging motorists to be cautious as part of Rural Roads Safety Week, April 18-23. Each year, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau partners with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania State Police to spread the message of staying safe on rural roads during the height of the spring planting season.
“Farmers make the safety of other motorists a top priority when we must move equipment on the roadway and we ask that drivers help keep us safe as well,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “We don’t want to cause an inconvenience to anyone and will often pull over to allow others to pass when it’s safe to do so. We just ask that drivers remain patient when following farm equipment and keep a safe distance. By slowing down and using caution and commonsense, drivers can avoid costly crashes and save lives.”
“Rural roads are crucial for transporting farm goods to market and equipment from field to field,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “We all need to get somewhere. But remember, farmers need the road to get food to our tables. Be alert, be patient and share the road safely. And don’t forget to thank a farmer for getting that food to your table.”
According to preliminary PennDOT data, there were 80 crashes involving farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads in 2021, resulting in two fatalities and six suspected serious injuries. In total, there were 26,784 crashes on rural Pennsylvania roads last year, resulting in 476 fatalities, further underscoring the need for safety on rural roads.
“PennDOT urges motorists to use caution on all roadways,” said PennDOT District 9 Executive Tom Prestash. “Especially on rural roads in the spring and summer months when farm vehicles are most common. Safe driving is everyone’s responsibility. Please slow down, avoid distractions and remain alert while driving. Never drive impaired, and always buckle up!”
“Pennsylvania has over 52,000 farms and 7.3 million acres of farmland adjacent to many rural roads throughout the state. During springtime, drivers should expect to encounter all types of farm machinery travelling on these roads,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “I encourage all drivers to focus on what is head of and around you on the roadway and know what to do if you do encounter farm machinery during your travels. Please don’t drive impaired or distracted, slow down, and remember to buckle up.”
Farm equipment can legally be operated on roadways, including at night, but farmers are required to follow certain safety guidelines depending on the size of equipment moved. All farm equipment that travels at speeds less than 25 miles per hour is required to have a Slow-Moving Vehicle emblem (an orange triangle with red outline) on the back of their equipment.
If drivers see the Slow-Moving Vehicle emblem, it is a sign to slow down immediately. It takes only five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field if a vehicle is driving 55 miles per hour and a tractor is moving at 15 miles per hour. Drivers should be alert that farm equipment may be turning at an unexpected place, such as into a field, and may be making a wide left turn if it pulls to the right. Always be sure the oncoming lane is clear and visible before passing large equipment and never pass in a no-passing zone or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel.
PFB, along with representatives from PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, held a demonstration and event promoting Rural Roads Safety Week at Gerald and Linda Smith’s Farm near Martinsburg, Blair County, on Monday, April 18. County Farm Bureaus across Pennsylvania also hold local events in their communities promoting safe driving on rural roads.
PFB has resources available to aid in your coverage of Rural Roads Safety Week. Visit www.pfb.com/ruralroadsafety for tips for drivers and farmers, b-roll video of farm equipment operating on the road, our Rural Roads Safety Week brochure and video from the live demonstration.
–Pennsylvania Farm Bureau