Across America, all farmers have at least this in common: farm safety is important. It is important year round. And it’s even more important during harvest when farm equipment is on the road. For us grass seed farmers in Oregon, harvest is literally around the corner. In fact, there are a few fields already cut and awaiting harvest as I type this. By this time next week, we’ll be heavy into grass seed harvest.
Windrowers, or swathers, headed to a field to “cut” the grass.
Across Oregon, mostly in rural Oregon, there is farm equipment on the road every day now, and will be for the next few months. We’re harvesting over 220 crops in Oregon and that’s going to take a lot of farm equipment – big and small – to get seed, feed, fiber and food from the field to ultimately your dinner table (or front lawn!).
So this morning was a perfect time to appear on AM Northwest on KATU as part of the Oregon Seed Council. Nick Bowers of KB Seed (@kb_seed) and I talked about why on-the-road-farm-safety is important, why farm equipment is on the road, and when it’s safe to pass. Watch the video here.
Some tips for motorists from the the farming community:
- Farmers have as much right to use the roads as the rest of the public.
- Farmers are simply getting from field to field with their equipment.
- Slow down; a car traveling at 55 MPH takes only 5 seconds to overtake a machine traveling at 15 MPH if the length of a football field is ahead.
- Don’t pass within 100 feet of an intersection, bridge, corner or overpass because the equipment may be wider than the roadway and need to use both lanes in those areas.
- Equipment will need the entire road to turn, either right or left, off the highway.
- Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re around. He/she may not be able to see in all directions, depending on the type of equipment he’s using.
- Even if the farmer sees you, he/she might not be able to get off the road right away.
- Farmers do know they hold up traffic and they will try to pull off the road as soon as they can do so safely.
- Motorists should not pass farm equipment unless they can see clearly ahead of the equipment. Drivers must also be aware that someone from behind may be trying to pass.
Farmers have an important obligation to use safe practices on the road too:
- Oregon law requires a slow moving vehicle reflector on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph.
- Edges of equipment should be marked with reflective tape and reflectors.
- When on the road, equipment should have front lights on and rear spotlights off.
- Avoid using highways during rush hours, bad weather and at night when they can.
Moral of the story? Caution and courtesy goes a long way when dealing with slow moving vehicles on the roads. Pay special attention during the busy travel and farming seasons to make sure everyone stays safe. We all have a stake in safety around farm vehicles. Drivers are counting on farmers to be visible and predictable, and we are counting on them to be cautious so we all make it home safe and sound.
For more information on Oregon grass seed, see here.
For rural road safety from the Oregon Farm Bureau, see here.
For more pictures of farm equipment of the road, see below: