Autumn is a peak harvest time for many crops, including soybeans, corn, grain, sorghum, cotton and vegetables, among others. Many Oklahomans mark this time of year by decorating with pumpkins and bringing out heavier clothing for dropping temperatures, but farming families are often focused on harvesttime. For this reason, Oklahomans may see an upswing in the number of tractors and other farm equipment on roadways, and there are many good rules to follow both for tractor operators and drivers of other vehicles to ensure safety for all concerned.
“This time of year, even Oklahomans who live in more urban and suburban areas may find themselves sharing the road with large farming equipment,” said Gary Buckner, executive vice president and general manager of Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Companies. “Tractor operators have a million safety considerations while on the road, so following a few driving best practices can help ensure safety for all parties.”
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance is offering the following tips for safe driving around tractors this season:
Be patient. Remember farmers are simply doing part of their job, and that their jobs provide the food, fiber and fuel all Oklahomans depend on daily. Their equipment can’t – and usually shouldn’t – often go more than about 25 mph. If you’re in a hurry, the best option is to hang back and take an alternate route at the next intersection or other safe and legal opportunity.
Keep your distance. Crowding a tractor or other farm equipment not only increases risk, but it can also distract the operator from focusing on important considerations all around him or her. Leave several car lengths between you and the equipment. This can give you more space to brake in an emergency and shows the operator that you are conscientious and courteous.
Respect turns. Like semi-trucks, farm equipment operators can face major challenges navigating curvy roads and making turns. Give the equipment plenty of space, and never try to pass on a curve or turn.
Be predictable. Keeping all the guidelines above in mind, one of the best rules of thumb is just to be predictable, driving at a slow, steady pace, staying in view of the farm equipment operator’s mirrors and obeying common traffic laws, like signaling when you plan to turn. This can help both the operator and other drivers get on down the road safely.