CAMP HILL, Pa. — Even during times of uncertainty caused by COVID-19, farmers are continuing to work hard to provide food, fiber and fuel for their local communities, and around the country. That work will soon become much more visible as farmers begin to move large pieces of farm equipment for the spring planting season.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and our partners in state government, are encouraging motorists to be cautious as part of Rural Roads Safety Week, April 19-25.
Every spring, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau partners with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 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 sure to watch out for the public when we are moving equipment. We are asking the public to keep a look out for us, and if they come upon farm equipment, to slow down and give us plenty of space. When we all drive smart, and with caution, we can prevent accidents,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert.
While the number of drivers on the road has significantly diminished as a result of stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, it is still vitally important to remind the public that farmers will be out on the road. By using caution and commonsense when approaching slow-moving equipment, costly accidents can be avoided.
“Unnecessary travel is discouraged as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, however, we understand that some trips are necessary,” said PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary George McAuley. “When you do need to go out, please be careful on our roadways, especially rural roads this time of year. With farmers out preparing their fields for this year’s crop, large farm equipment may be just around the next bend. Please, slow down and be safe on rural roads.”
Crash data for 2019 is not yet available, but in 2018, there were 94 crashes on rural roads involving farm equipment, resulting in eight fatalities. In total, there were nearly 55,000 total crashes on rural roads in 2018, further underscoring the need for safety on rural roads.
“Drivers traveling on rural roads encounter different hazards from those traveling on the interstates,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “If you must travel for essential items or needs, slow down, be prepared to encounter large machinery and remember to always buckle up.”
Farm equipment can legally be operated on roadways, 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 are required to have a Slow Moving Vehicle emblem on the back of their equipment.
“Operating large farm equipment is fundamentally different than driving a motor vehicle. Some of our equipment has large blind spots and when pulling equipment, it is often difficult to see other vehicles following closely behind. Farmers make sure to watch out for motorists, and we hope that they do the same for us.” added Ebert.
PFB has resources available to aid in your coverage of Rural Roads Safety Week, including tips for drivers and farmers and videos that may be embedded on your website or downloaded to include in your coverage.
–Pennsylvania Farm Bureau