Look out for tractors, farm vehicles while driving

October 23, 2013 

Do you remember that problem in math class, “If one vehicle is traveling at 55 mph and another is traveling at 15 mph, how long will it take for the first vehicle to catch the second vehicle if they are 400 feet apart?” The answer is less than 7 seconds.

Many of you are probably scratching your head right now trying to figure what I am getting at. The second vehicle that I am referring to is none other then a tractor.

Harvest in south Georgia is in full swing, so there are numerous tractors and other farm equipment sharing the road.

Safety is more important than ever because farmers’ fields are spread further apart and farm equipment is getting bigger. This means that farmers are traveling on the road more frequently and are taking up more space on the road.

I refer to the math problem because many people do not realize how quickly you can run up on a tractor. Most farm equipment can only travel up to 25 mph.

According to The National Safety Council, there are more than 15,000 accidents involving farm equipment every year. Most of these accidents occur from farm equipment being rear-ended.

Other possible collisions can include sideswiping the tractor when passing, head on collision with another vehicle, and “T-boning” the tractor while it is making a left hand turn.

The sad thing is more than 90 percent of the collisions occurs on dry roads during the day, and in fatal collisions the farmer is usually the one who dies.

The average hold up for being behind a tractor is only one to two minutes. Since getting behind a tractor will not delay your commute for too long, it is not worth making risky maneuvers to overtake the tractor.

When coming up on a tractor, slow down! Be on the lookout for other farm equipment hooked to the tractor (plows, planter, etc.). When passing farm equipment, be sure to give the farm equipment plenty of room.

Only pass in a legal passing zone and be sure there is no oncoming traffic.

Farm equipment on the road has to follow American Society of Agricultural Engineers standards which add numerous safety precautions to them, such as flashing lights and slow moving vehicle signs. These are equipped on farm equipment to help them be more visible to motorist.

I know that we all have places to go and people to see, but remember that piece of farm equipment contains a farmer who is just trying to make a living like everyone else.

For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.

Dates to remember

Nov. 14-15: Perry Small Conference, recertification credits

Nov. 15: Master Gardener Advance Training, Cleanscapes

Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or cmote1@uga.edu.

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