By Ms. Keri Collins Lewis
Mississippi farmers are gearing up for the 2018 growing season, which means everyone needs to be prepared to share the road with tractors and other equipment.
Patrick Poindexter, Alcorn County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said being aware and patient can keep everyone safe.
“If you have never driven a piece of farm equipment, you may not understand it’s simply not as easy to maneuver as a regular truck or car,” Poindexter said. “In addition to traveling at slower speeds, tractors and other pieces of machinery tend to have reduced visibility. Don’t assume the driver can see you.”
On Mississippi’s rural roads, the danger increases.
“Drivers tend to get impatient and want to pass, but this can be a recipe for disaster, especially on two-lane roads,” Poindexter said. “Some farmers travel with escort vehicles, which will require additional clearance. It’s better to wait until the driver can pull over than to risk an accident.”
Most equipment drivers are not going incredibly long distances, and they are aware of the need to accommodate other drivers when they can.
“Everyone getting to their destination safely is the goal, so take a deep breath, slow down, and instead of being angry at the inconvenience, try to think about the hard work that goes into growing our food, fiber and fuel,” Poindexter said.
Equipment operators have rules they must follow, too. Checking to be sure all equipment, including lighting systems, brakes, and tires, is in proper working order contributes to everyone’s safety.
“Another key safety rule is one rider per seat at all times,” said Charlie Stokes, Extension area agronomist based in Monroe County. “It’s hard to say no to kids who want to ride along with a parent or grandparent, but it’s for their own safety.”
Equipment should also display a slow-moving-vehicle sign.
“And when we say slow, we mean about 25 mph, compared to the 55-65 mph most people are traveling,” Stokes said. “That is a big difference in speed when you come flying around a curve, talking on your phone or texting. So, stop driving with distractions, and put safety first. Your loved ones, or the loved ones of the other drivers on the road, will thank you.”