Safety First during Harvest
Created by rrummel on 9/24/2013 10:35:20 AM

Most farm accidents - 4p-8p

As summer comes to a close, farmers face one of the busiest and most exciting times of the year – harvest. As farmers head to the fields to combine corn and soybeans, farm-vehicle traffic increases on local roads and highways. Local farmers encourage all drivers to exercise caution when approaching tractors and farm implements to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Dave Smith, part owner and operator of Smith Family Farms in Rochester, says farmers and other drivers must work together to keep rural roads safe.  “Harvest season is certainly a hectic time for us and we operate equipment throughout most of the day and evening hours,” he says. “We have invested in lighting equipment for all of our implements and make sure it is in top working condition to ensure that other drivers can recognize the slow moving vehicles from a distance.”

Accidents involving farm equipment in Indiana resulted in three fatalities in 2011, not to mention numerous other non-fatal accidents. Smith Family Farms hopes alerting drivers of the increase of farm-vehicle traffic will reduce that number this year.

Smith has a couple of tips to keep in mind, including:

  • Start slowly applying your brakes early. It takes only five seconds for a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour to close a 100-yard gap with a tractor or combine moving only 15 miles per hour.
  • A good rule of thumb when following farm equipment is to stay back at least 50 feet so you remain visible to equipment operators.
  • Don’t assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road will turn right or let the vehicle pass.
  • Look for the operator’s hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or other places a farm vehicle might make a left turn.
  • Speak with young drivers about safety, too. “Especially if they are new to the road,” Smith says. “Some drivers may not know proper procedure when approaching a farm vehicle.”
  • Vehicle collisions most commonly occur between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. This four-hour stretch often means increased activity on the road, as many make their way home from work, run errands, attend community activities and shuttle children home from school and extracurricular activities.

“At the end of the day, we all want to go home to our families and friends,” says Smith. “We can ensure this happens if we share the road together and be courteous of one another.”