With harvest getting underway in earnest across the Inland Northwest, the Oregon Farm Bureau is asking motorist to slowdown and watch for large equipment and implements on are highways. Kristie Glaser Vice Chair of the Oregon Farm Bureau Health and Safety Committee said it is legal for farmers to drive those slow moving pieces of equipment on public roadways. So she advised that motorists be cautious and patience, especially where visibility may be limited.
“Most farm equipment can only go 15-25 mph, so if you’re driving 55 mph on a highway and you come upon a tractor that’s going 25 mph, it only takes eight seconds to close the gap the size of a football field. And football fields are huge.”
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, 42 crashes were reported statewide involving farm equipment in 2017, resulting in one fatality and 32 non-fatal injuries. That’s a significant jump from 2013 were 26 crashes were reported with 11 injuries and no deaths.
“Just use caution, courtesy and patience,” Glaser added. “And it doesn’t hurt if you just smile and wave because at the end of the day, we all want to get back home to our families just as much as you do.”
The Oregon Farm Bureau has additional tips, including:
• If you decide to pass farm equipment on the road, please do so with caution.
• Be watchful of vehicles behind you that may also try to pass.
• If you must enter the oncoming lane of traffic, do not proceed unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the vehicle you will pass.
• If there are any curves or hills ahead that may block your view or the view of oncoming vehicles, do not pass.
• Do not pass if you are in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure, or tunnel.
• Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must make wide left-hand turns. If you are unsure, check the operator’s hand signals and look at the left side of the road for gates, driveways, or a place the vehicle might turn.
• Oregon law requires a slow-moving vehicle reflector on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph. Always point the triangle up, keep the SMV emblem clean to maximize reflectivity, and replace the emblem when it fades, normally every two to three years.
• Mark the edges of tractors and machines with reflective tape and reflectors. Consider installing retrofit lighting to increase visibility.
• Turn on your lights, but turn off rear spotlights when going onto the road. From a distance, spotlights can be mistaken for headlights.
• Be aware of heavy traffic patterns.
• Consider installing mirrors on equipment so you can see motorists around you. Be careful where the mirrors are placed.
• When moving multiple farm implements down the highway, leave enough space between each vehicle for cars to pass.
If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]