Tractor & Rural Roadway Safety

by Chris Coplan

Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, are the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To help reduce these numbers and overall farm safety, COUNTRY Financial® and the Illinois Farm Bureau are partnering for National Farm Safety and Health Week to urge farmers and drivers to shift safety into high gear.

“Tractor visibility is extremely important for preventing transportation incidents,” says Kirby Wagner, Assistant Director of Transportation & Infrastructure at Illinois Farm Bureau. “When frequently traveling in farm vehicles, key safety features like lights and Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs can get covered in dust or debris.”

Wagner says it is important for all farm operators to develop a routine to make sure these features always remain visible for other drivers and that safety precautions are always top of mind, especially this year.

“Because the planting season was unusual, farmers could be harvesting for lengthier hours and over a longer period, while possibly under stress considering 2019 farm outcomes. It is important for everyone, including motorists, to shift safety into high gear to avoid transportation incidents.”

“We all need to work together to keep the roadway safe,” adds Eric Vanasdale, Loss Control Supervisor for COUNTRY Financial. “Rural motorists should consider giving themselves a few extra minutes for travel during the harvest season so they can slow down to keep our farmers and families safe. Farm equipment is large, difficult to maneuver, and it is easy to miscalculate the equipment’s slower speed as you approach it on the road in a faster moving vehicle.”

To ensure you and your local famers have a safe harvest season, follow these simple safety steps.

Simple safety steps for farmers

  1. Keep SMV signs, lights, and the body of farm vehicles clean. Dirt or debris can cover these safety features which lowers equipment visibility. Also, depositing anything on the road that obstructs traffic is illegal and dangerous.
  2. Travel in farm vehicles at low traffic times when possible. Roads are typically busiest on weekdays when people are traveling to and from work.
  3. Continue to be observant. As always, be aware and attentive when driving. Distracted driving is just as dangerous in farm vehicles as it is in regular vehicles.

Simple safety steps for drivers

  1. Find the lights on farm vehicles. Farm vehicles are required to have amber and red rear lights. The amber lights should be visible to the front and rear. They should flash as a warning to other motorists.
  2. Slow down as soon as you see a farm vehicle. Most farm equipment only travels 15 to 20 miles per hour, so it is crucial to slow down before it is too late.
  3. Be cognizant of the time of year. Harvest season typically runs from September through November. Drivers should expect to see farm vehicles on the road during this time.

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COUNTRY Financial® is the marketing name for the COUNTRY Financial family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY), which include COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, Illinois.