With spring planting season nearly upon us, Maryland's farmers are heading back to their fields. And their large machinery is going with them. That means the state's drivers will start to see tractors and other large equipment on the roads surrounding farms.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is putting out a reminder to motorists that they should be patient and cautious while sharing the road with farmers using the roads to avoid a serious accident.
Farmers often have to drive oversized equipment from one field to another. One Maryland farmer says he tries to be respectful of other drivers when he has to use the road, but that many don't return the favor. Instead, they act as though they have blinders on and don't see the equipment, speeding past it dangerously close. "They don't even realize this is something that can take your life," he said.
Another farmer says he tries to use a warning truck in front or behind his farm equipment when it's on the road. But even in those cases, there have been some close calls. Many farmers have been hit and injured by other vehicles. It's not surprising, considering that farmers are less protected when riding atop a tractor or similar machinery.
Passing farm equipment safely and cautiously also helps prevent collisions with other cars. When farm machinery takes up an entire lane, many cars must cross the center line of the road to pass. Doing so on a hill or in a no-passing zone creates the risk of colliding head-on with another vehicle.
The MDA also says drivers shouldn't assume it's safe to pass farm equipment just because it pulls to the right. Very often this is necessary to make a wide left turn. Watch for the driver's hand signals and keep an eye out on the left side of the road for gates, driveways or roads where a farm vehicle might turn. And when in doubt, do not pass.
They may be an inconvenience to other drivers, but the vehicles farmers use to get their work done are no less important than an office worker's laptop or phone. A little extra caution can go a long way toward preventing a deadly crash.
Source: Carroll County Times, "MDA warns motorists to be cautious, patient with farm equipment on roads," Carrie Ann Knauer, March 14, 2012