Harvest time on the farm indicates the end of the growing season and includes all of the activities involved in removing the crop and taking it to market. In most cases, harvest season means more farm vehicles will be leaving the farm and sharing the road with other drivers. That includes combines and other over-sized harvesting equipment that travel from one field to another as well as farming trucks and tractors transporting produce. For the protection of you and your loved ones, Southern States® has partnered with Nationwide® Agribusiness Insurance to provide some tips for road safety for both farmers and other drivers during harvest season.
Because farm vehicles travel more often on public roads during the harvest season, there are serious safety concerns about farm vehicles and equipment sharing the road with other drivers. Rural farm vehicle accidents include: collisions with other vehicles, running off the road, overturning, striking a fixed object or falling equipment. These rural crashes are catastrophic, causing costly equipment damage, injuries, and, sometimes death.
There is a growing belief amongst farmers that driving their tractors on rural roads is more dangerous today than it was a few years ago. While the size of the farm equipment gets bigger, the roads do not. Most paved rural roads average about 18-20 feet wide, yet many pieces of farm equipment measure over 13 feet wide. In addition, there is more traffic on rural roads. This is a serious concern for both farm workers and rural drivers.
Farmers need to take extra precautions in order to increase road safety. In a recent study published by the National Ag Safety Database (NASD), lighting and yield violations were noted in 23% of the accident cases on rural roadways where the farm operator was issued a citation. Always make sure your farm vehicle has proper lighting. This includes working turn signals, headlights and taillights. Always use the lights if there is ever any question about visibility. It is also a good idea to use flashers anytime you use public roads. Know and comply with your state laws regarding farm vehicles. Most state laws require using headlights 30 minutes before sunset and up until 30 minutes after sunrise.
While it's important for all drivers to drive defensively, it's vital for farm machinery operators. Safety should begin before leaving any farmstead or work site - check both the vehicle and the equipment being towed before traveling. Inspect hitches to ensure they are solid and mounted properly before towing equipment. Always display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem in a prominent place on all off-road farm vehicles.
Drivers on rural roads need to drive with caution at all times, but especially during harvest season. Slow down while driving through curves and over hills. Be on alert for farm vehicles and give them plenty of space on the road.
At Southern States®, we are proud to be a farmer-owned cooperative. Southern States has partnered with Nationwide® to offer Southern States Cooperative member-producers in North Carolina and Virginia special discounts on farm insurance. In addition to giving you exclusive insurance savings, we're also joining forces to support the cooperative that means so much to you.
Nationwide® Agribusiness is the number 1 insurer of farms in the U.S. and a leading insurer of commercial agribusiness. Go to nationwide.com/southernstates to find a local agent.