Here are some key points.
- Drive slowly when operating a tractor or other farm equipment on a public road.
- Follow all state and local traffic laws.
- Pull off onto the shoulder to let traffic pass if there’s enough room.
Accidents are all too common
- Each year, thousands of farm vehicles are involved in accidents on public roads.
- Most of the collisions between tractors or other slow-moving farm equipment and cars or trucks occur on dry, open highways during the day.
- A major reason for these accidents is the difference in speed between cars or trucks and slow-moving farm machinery. Rear-end collisions are especially common.
- Accidents also occur when operators of farm equipment:
- drive too fast, especially when turning or pulling a heavy load
- drive partially over the center line
- run into a tree or other fixed object
- are young and inexperienced at driving
Make sure your load is secure.
Avoid soft shoulders and narrow right-of-ways.
Slow down when you’re behind a vehicle with an SMV.
Check before you go
Before operating farm machinery on a public road, be sure to do the following:
- Check your hitch connections, including locking devices.
- Check the load. Make sure it’s secure, balanced, and equipped with brakes. Also make sure it’s light enough for your vehicle to safely handle.
- Be sure your slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem is clean, unfaded and properly affixed. See your supervisor if the SMV is missing or in poor condition.
- Ask about other markings and lights required by law, and be sure all lights are operating properly.
- Inspect the condition of your tires.
- Lock tractor brake pedals together. See your supervisor if you have any questions.
Safety on the road
- Avoid traveling on public roads after dark.
- Follow all state and local traffic laws, including laws on speed, signaling, signage and allowing other traffic to pass.
- Use all safety equipment. This includes wearing a seat belt when one is provided.
- Slow down on turns, curves and when pulling a heavy load.
- Pull off the road to let traffic pass if the shoulder is wide enough and smooth enough.
- Be on the lookout for potential hazards such as soft shoulders, narrow right-of-ways, loose gravel, bumps, potholes and deep ruts.
- Don’t take chances by pulling out onto a road in front of moving traffic. Enter the road very slowly if your view is obstructed.
- Don’t operate a farm vehicle if you have been drinking alcohol, taking drugs, are overtired or ill.
A few more safety tips
- If you are driving a car or truck and spot a vehicle with an SMV emblem in front of you, slow down. Remember that farm equipment with an SMV travels at 25 miles an hour or less.
- Never allow passengers or children to ride on tractors, wagons or other farm machinery.
- Wear sunglasses when operating farm machinery on sunny days to help cut down the glare.
- Always drive defensively. Keep your eyes on the road ahead and on other traffic.
Farm Machinery Safety Do’s and Don’ts
- Secure hitches and loads ahead of time.
- Slow down on curves, turns, and when pulling a heavy load.
- Stay to the right. Don’t drive partially over the center line.
- Operate farm machinery without a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.
- Drive down a hill in high gear with a heavy load.
- Operate a tractor or other farm machinery if you have been drinking.