It's Rural Roads Safety Week in Franklin County

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

With spring's arrival, farmers are heading to the fields to plant their crops across Pennsylvania.  As a result, residents in rural areas will be seeing more tractors and large planting equipment on local roads.  During Rural Roads Safety Week, April 15-21, the Franklin County Farm Bureau is encouraging all motorists to be aware of farm equipment as they travel in rural areas this spring, and all year long.

“Rural road safety is an important issue year-round, but it is especially important at this time of year,” said Jack Martin, Franklin County Farm Bureau president.  “Farmers will be out planting, and motorists must remain alert for large and often slow-moving equipment.”

Martin added that a few simple steps can help drivers stay safe when operating vehicles on rural roads:

• Don't Rush — If you drive on rural roads, chances are good that you will encounter farm equipment at some point on your route.  Avoid rushing and allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely.  This is especially important while traveling during the months between April and November.

• Pass with Care — If you feel you must pass the farmer, do so with caution.  Be observant of oncoming traffic and for other vehicles that may try to pass.  Never pass when curves or hills block your view of oncoming vehicles, you are in a 'No Passing Zone' or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel.  Also be careful that the farmer is not pulling to the right to make a wide left turn.

• SMV = Brake Immediately — The orange triangular Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem warns drivers of a slow vehicle speed.  All farm equipment traveling at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less are required to be marked with a SMV emblem.  Once you see it, slow down immediately.  For example, if a car is moving 55 mph and comes upon a tractor moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field between the car and the tractor.

• Remain Visible — Don't assume that the farmer knows that you are driving near his vehicle.  While most farmers will check behind them whenever possible, they are concentrating on keeping their equipment on the road and avoiding oncoming traffic.  Before you pass, use your car's horn to let the driver know where you are.  Farmers may not be able to hear you over their equipment noise.  

“Cooperation among farmers and rural motorists is the key to rural roads safety,” said Martin. “If farmers and motorists look out for one another, everyone will arrive at their destination safely.”