With the weather getting nicer and farm fields becoming dry enough to work, more and more agriculture vehicles and equipment will be taking to the highways and back roads as it moves from acreage to acreage.
According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the number one cause of fatalities in agriculture and timber work is transportation. Kentucky State Police reports that in 2020, there were 209 collisions involving farm equipment on public roadways, with 62 of the crashes labeled by KSP due to “inattention.”
KSP Sgt. Jason Morris advises farmers to remain vigilant and understand just because their equipment may be large, that does not mean other motorists are going to see them.
“I hear too many times, ‘I thought they saw me,’” Morris said. “Out here on the road today, is anybody paying attention? No, they are not. What’s most everybody doing? That cell phone.”
Morris pointed out that though ag equipment is legally allowed to cross the yellow line during travel, farmers must understand if a crash occurs over the line, liability will likely lie with the equipment operator.
According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 60 percent of the state’s major roads – excluding interstates – have a lane width of 10 feet or less, and most county-maintained roads and state routes are narrow.
Morris advises all drivers to remain vigilant of farm equipment that might be moving this time of year. “You always have to think about what’s next, what’s coming, what’s around the next bend,” he said. “Is this guy going to get over? Does he see me? We want to get where we need to be, but we want to get there as safe as possible.”
Kentucky Farm Bureau offers the following tips for motorists and ag producers to stay safe during this busy season for equipment travel:
- Watch for road signs in agricultural areas which may have the silhouette of a farmer on tractor. This indicates slow moving vehicles may be in the area.
- Don’t assume the equipment operator know you are there.
- Keep your distance so the operator can see you in their mirrors.
- Use caution when passing. Do not speed past a piece of equipment, as the turbulence can cause the operator to lose control.
• Be patient and slow down as you approach farm machinery on public roads. Operators must survey the shoulder of the roadway to assure it is safe to get over to allow faster moving vehicles to pass.