Springtime Rural Road Safety
By Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension
PRESTON and CALEDONIA, Minn. (03/28/2023) — Spring is officially here! With springtime here our farmers are busy getting their crops in the ground. This means we will be seeing more farm equipment on the road. Tractors and large field equipment are often involved in farm accidents, injuries, and deaths and everyone on the road needs to do our part to avoid this. Whether you’re operating the equipment or sharing the road with it, safety is paramount.
As a motorist in our rural community you will often be sharing the road with farm equipment. Tractors and other large farm equipment are a necessary part of farm work but exercising caution is crucial in preventing accidents. Farm equipment cannot travel above 30 mph, which means, as soon as you see a farmer up ahead on the road you should begin slowing down. Farmers will have their tractors equipped with Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs and flashing lights to help with visibility.
As a farmer, before operating farm equipment, understand how to do so safely. Read the operations manual and pay attention to any safety or warning decals on the equipment. Before operation, inspect the equipment for any safety hazards. During inspection, also identify all safety hazards including moving parts, pinch points, crush points, pull-in areas, and free-wheeling areas. Be sure anyone who is going to be using the equipment is aware of these areas as well. Make sure that all SMV signs are visible and all lights are in working order before leaving the farm site. You may also consider using a follow vehicle when moving large pieces of equipment, especially at night. Proper safety precautions on the roads keep not only you, but the other people using the road, safe.
Farm equipment is a dangerous part of farming, but following safety guidelines, keeping others away from the operation area, and using public roads in a safe manner will keep us all out of harm’s way. Wishing all farmers a safe and successful planting season! For more information visit extension.umn.edu/farmsafety or reach out to your local Extension Educator. Residents in Fillmore and Houston counties may call 507-765-3896 or 507-725-5807.