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Safe Driving in Farm Country

Driving Tips for Rural Areas

Defensive driving is an important skill for everyone on the road to possess, but it is especially important for those driving farm machinery. The National Ag Safety Database reports that fatality rates from accidents in rural counties are double the fatality rates in urban counties. Some other need-to-know facts reported by the database include:

  • Crashes that occur in rural areas happen more often, are more severe, and more often result in serious injury or death as compared to crashes in urban areas.
  • Tractors and other farm equipment are increasingly becoming faster on the road and have the capabilities to travel at speeds of 45 mph.
  • Tractors and other farm equipment are involved in many of the crashes that occur on rural roadways.
  • The majority of farmers report that they believe driving their equipment on rural roads is much more dangerous today than it has been in years past.

Safety Tips for Rural Roadways

Farm machinery often share roadways with other vehicles during the height of planting and harvesting seasons, which can be a hazardous time for farmers and drivers alike. This is especially true in more rural areas or farming communities. This machinery can include tractors, combines, planters, and other equipment that needs to be moved from one farming area to another – larger pickup trucks are also very common as they are essential for transporting materials and supplies.

For those who are operating farm machinery on a rural roadway, here are some safety tips you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure the vehicle’s lights are working properly.
  • Use a “Slow Moving Vehicle” or SMV on any machinery being driven on a roadway.
  • Implement flashers or hazard lights when on public roadways – professionals recommend having two sets of amber flashing lights (mounted on the front and back) that are attached at least 42 inches high.
  • Make sure to comply with all state driving laws including the speed limit and using signals when turning.
  • Follow state laws regarding headlight use including using lights 30 minutes before dark and 30 minutes after sunrise as well as during inclement weather.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with safety chains, make sure to use them.
  • Make sure all hitches are properly mounted and sturdy before attaching any additional equipment for towing.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and other drivers on the road.
  • Ensure all emblems on the vehicle are properly mounted and in good condition.

Think you or someone you know is in need of Behind the Wheel Training? Training Wheels is an Ocean City driving school specializing in teaching new teen drivers how to stay safe on the road. For more information on our lessons, please click here.

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