Sharing the road with farm equipment


During this time of year, farmers often need to move equipment from one field to another, but sometimes those transitions require their machinery to travel down or across public roads.

Check out these tips on how to be a polite motorist in the presence of farm equipment:

  • Drive defensively, especially during busy seasons like harvest and planting. Be prepared to encounter large, slow moving farm machinery and trucks.

  • Don't assume the farmer knows you are there. While most farmers check frequently for vehicles approaching from behind them, their focus must remain on the road ahead. Also remember that farm machinery is very loud and may prevent the operator from hearing your vehicle's approach.

  • Slow down. Farm vehicles often travel at slow speeds. To reduce the risk of a collision, begin braking when you see the slow-moving vehicle emblem. Also stay a safe distance back—around 50 feet.

  • Pass carefully. Take the standard precautions: Wait for a safe passing zone, watch for oncoming traffic, signal and return to the lane once the vehicle is in your rearview mirror. If the vehicle is extra-wide, wait to pass until the driver pulls over and signals that it's safe. Honk your horn beforehand in case the driver can't see you.

  • Yield. Give a wide farm vehicle the right-of-way when it's traveling the opposite direction. Farm vehicles can't always pull over to the road's shoulder safely. If possible, pull onto the shoulder or into a turn-out to allow the farm vehicle to pass.

  • Be patient. A driver may appear to be pulling to the right to let you pass when he or she is actually making a wide left-hand turn. Before speeding past, look for driveways, roads or fields where the vehicle might be entering. Also check for hand gestures or lights signaling the driver's intention to turn.

  • Know the basics. Following the speed limit and wearing your safety belt is just as important in the country as it is on city streets.

  • Take a second look. Before you pull into an intersection or make a move to pass, be sure your path is clear in all directions. Tall crops can create 'blind' corners, and farm vehicles could enter the roadway from unmarked access drives on their fields.