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Released: September 16, 2005

National Farm Safety, Health Week Emphasizes Safe Harvest

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- “Harvesting Safety & Health” is the theme of the 62nd annual observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18-24, sponsored by the National Safety Council and supported by farm safety advocates across the United States, including Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Tips For Farmers and Rural Motorists:
How To Coexist With Farm Equipment On The Road

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State University Research and Extension farm safety specialist John Slocombe offers the following guidelines for farmers and non-farmers who meet on the road.

• Farm machinery has a legal right to use public roads just as other motor vehicles.

• Farm machinery can unexpectedly turn onto a public road from a field or driveway. It is important for everyone’s safety to have patience and share the road.

• Farm machinery travels slower than normal traffic, often at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less. Automobile drivers must quickly identify farm equipment and slow down immediately to avoid rear end crashes.

• Farm machinery operators may not be able to see you because the large equipment or a load can block part of their rearward view. If you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you.

• Slow moving farm machinery traveling less than 25 miles per hour should display a slow moving vehicle emblem on the back of the equipment. This is a quickly identifiable sign to other motorists.

• Machinery that is half on the road and half on the shoulder may suddenly move completely onto the road.

• Extra-wide farm machinery may take up more than one lane to avoid hitting obstacles such as mailboxes and road signs.

Before passing farm machinery:

• Check to be sure the machinery is not turning left. Look for left turn lights or hand signals. If the machinery slows and pulls toward the right side of the road, the operator is likely preparing to make a wide left turn. Likewise, sometimes to make a right turn with wide equipment, the driver must fade to the left.

• Determine if the road is wide enough for you and the machinery to safely share.

• Look for roadside obstacles such as mailboxes, bridges, or road signs that may cause the machinery to move to the center of the road.

• Be sure there is adequate distance for you to safely pass.

“The theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week reminds us that harvest season comes with important safety messages,” said John Slocombe, K-State Extension farm safety specialist. “Especially important is safety on our rural highways as farm equipment and passengers use the same two lanes. Harvest season generally is a time when we see an increase in collisions between farm equipment and other vehicles.”

“These collisions are often the result of the speed differential between slower-moving farm equipment and passenger cars and trucks,” Slocombe added. “A highway, the closure distance and time between a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour and a farm tractor pulling a grain wagon traveling 15 miles per hour is very short. The passenger vehicle driver simply doesn’t have enough time to react if they do not recognize the farm equipment soon enough.”

Slocombe reminds farmers to take steps to enhance farm machinery visibility by replacing worn or damaged Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblems and using appropriate lighting and reflective markings. Most tractors and combines are equipped with lighting and markings that make them more visible on the highway.

Passenger vehicle drivers can help too, he said, by acknowledging the fall farming season is busy and often requires large farm implements to be moved on public highways. Drivers in rural areas should always be alert to the possibility of encountering slow moving farm vehicles and be prepared to slow or stop to avoid a rear-end collision or striking a farm vehicle turning into a field or driveway.

“Extra patience, careful driving habits, and the use of highly-visible markings and lighting will help prevent farm vehicle collisions as fall harvest season gets underway with the annual observance of Farm Safety Week. Let’s all do our part to stay safe,” Slocombe said.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by:
Kerri Ebert
K-State Research& Extension News

Additional Information:
John Slocombe is at 785-532-2906 or; Kerri Ebert is at 785-532-2976