Now that harvest season is upon us, more and more heavy equipment is going to be out on the same roads as vehicle traffic, going from field to field.

“No farmer driving down the road wants to create a traffic jam, so we all need to be patient and cautious of one another,” said Curt Blades, senior vice president of agriculture services at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) “Whether it’s the farmer driving the tractor or the combine, or the person in a vehicle, we all need to recognize that everyone has to go down these same roads as safely as possible so we can all come home to our loved ones.”

A recent study from the University of Iowa Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health found that higher speed roads, and roads with limited visibility such as narrow, hilly, or curvy roads have a higher instance of traffic accidents between motor vehicles and farm equipment. What’s more, their study found that 30-percent of these accidents occurred in urban zip-codes. And given the size and nature of the equipment out there, these accidents can cause serious injuries.

With that in mind, AEM’s Curt Blades offers three simple tips for drivers on rural and other farm-adjacent roads to keep themselves safe.

Be Aware. “Drivers should be aware that they may encounter farm equipment on rural roadways,” Blades said. “If they see a flashing light on a piece of equipment, just slow down and give them space.”
Be Predictable. “A farmer wants to know if you want to pass them,” Blades continued. “If you can’t see their mirrors, or inside the cab, they can’t see you. You need to be predictable while driving and interacting with farm equipment.”
Be Patient. “A farmer will have a good indication of when it is safe for you to pass and will move over to create a clearer passageway,” Blades finished.
Maximizing the safety of farmers in their equipment has also been a priority of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and that extends to keeping drivers on the road safe as well.

“It’s very important to us,” Blades said. “We want to do whatever is possible to make sure tractors are safe on the road, that farmers are operating that equipment safely, and that other automobiles are aware of how to safely pass farm equipment.”

To learn more about ag equipment safety, or to purchase safety manuals for your equipment, visit AEM.org.