Staying safe on the road

Published 4:34 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

Agriculture is a major industry in Stanly County. That means that as the weather warms, the tractors and other large equipment come rolling out and sometimes that includes onto public roads. Below are some tips for safely sharing the roads.
Remember that farm equipment is usually slow-moving and may not be able to come to a stop or turn as quickly as a passenger vehicle would. Use caution when approaching and maintain a safe following distance. It may not take long to catch up to machinery that appears to be far away.
Observe the equipment and driver for signals. Many modern models have turn signals just like passenger vehicles and the driver may use hand signals to communicate their intentions. Do not assume that a slowing or stopped piece of equipment is waiting for you to pass. They may be about to make a turn, so watch to be sure. Many accidents are a result of a driver attempting to pass equipment while it is making a left turn.
Speaking of passing equipment: always be sure that you can see around the equipment to check to see that the path is clear before passing. Pass safely and make sure to leave plenty of space between you and the piece of equipment before returning to that lane.
Above all, be patient. Most equipment is only traveling a short distance and should not significantly impact your commute. Remaining calm will help protect yourself as well as someone else’s spouse, family member or friend.
Farmers operating these pieces of equipment should remember to always check their lighting system and Slow-Moving Vehicle emblem before traveling on public roads. Faded or damaged emblems should be replaced because good visibility will help other drivers see them in a timely manner and respond appropriately.
Whenever possible, it is desirable to try to time road travel so that it won’t occur during peak traffic times, such as when people are going to or leaving work or school. Avoid driving after dark unless absolutely necessary and exercise caution.
Check equipment over to be sure that implements and loads are secure and that there isn’t any debris that may fly off during transit.
Double check tires and hitch pins and replace or repair any worn parts.
It is also a good idea to keep items such as road flares and other emergency gear stowed on the machine.
Safe driving is paramount no matter what a person is driving, but mindfulness and cooperation can help keep the roads a safe place for all drivers.

Samantha Foster is the Agricultural Extension Agent, Livestock and Forages with the Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call 704-983-3987 (ext. 3).