Motorists need to remember road safety during harvest time

September 19, 2017

Fall is a beautiful time of year in Delaware. For farmers, it is harvest time, involving long, busy hours working hard to bring in the crops.

Out of necessity, farmers are on the roadways moving tractors, trailers and other large equipment at any time of day, sometimes until late at night and on weekends, too. Motorists need to help them be safe by paying attention at all times and being aware of their presence on the roadways.

Drivers should watch for slow-moving vehicles. That orange triangle is not simply a reflector; it is a warning to slow down. Flashing orange or yellow lights or a pilot vehicle in front or behind also serve to remind motorists that this equipment is moving very slowly. If someone is driving 55 miles per hour and comes upon a tractor that is moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes 5 seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.

The farmer could be preparing to make a turn and needs just a few minutes of motorists' patience while maneuvering his very large equipment into a field or farm lane. Drivers should watch for hand signals, turn signals or other signs that a slow-moving vehicle is preparing to turn. Drivers should not assume a farmer is pulling to the right to let them pass. Some equipment requires a wide left-hand turn.

Shoulders may be soft, wet or steep, and they are often obstructed by mailboxes and road signs. Pulling off the road could cause the farm vehicle to tip. Motorists should never assume the driver of farm equipment knows they are there. Most operators of farm equipment regularly check to see if there is traffic behind them. However, the farmer must concentrate on the road ahead to keep the equipment safely on the road, and to watch for oncoming traffic.

When passing, motorists should always use caution. Motorists should not pass unless they can see clearly ahead of both their vehicle and the vehicle they will pass, nor should they pass if there is a curve or hill ahead. Motorists should not pass in a no-passing zone or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevation structure or tunnel.

Drivers should look for DelDOT's digital messages on Route 1 and Delaware Farm Bureau's safety signs on rural roads alerting motorists to slow down and watch for farmers working in the area.

Delaware Farm Bureau wants to keep motorists and farmers safe while using the roads. Delaware farmers are working hard to feed the people not only in Delaware, but the world! So everyone needs to keep road safety the No. 1 priority while traveling the roads this fall.