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Hello there, fellow road traveler! It’s that time of the year again when our rural roads come alive with the bustling activity of farmers and their farm equipment. These hard-working folks are out there feeding the world. To ensure their safety, and ours, as we share the road, let’s dive into some friendly advice on rural road safety.
A few important things to understand are that farm machinery and farm equipment that is being driven or is self-propelled is generally exempt from the width, length and height limitations in Ohio law. Farm machinery that is hauled or transported is not exempt from dimension limits. Additionally, the Ohio Supreme Court determined that if the right half of a road is not of sufficient width to accommodate farm machinery or equipment, the operator of the farm machinery or equipment is exempt from Ohio’s law prohibiting operating a vehicle left of the center line. (State v. Leichty, 68 Ohio St.3d 37 (1993))
Now, let’s start with our farming friends, the unsung heroes of our dinner plates.
Know the road rules
• Light it up — Keep your equipment visible and safe with proper lighting and those trusty Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) or Speed Identification Symbol (SIS) signs. If you’re zooming along above 25 mph, don’t forget the SIS sign so that motorists understand you still may not be able to go that posted 55 mph speed limit.
• Respect the traffic flow — You’re absolutely allowed to be on the road with your farm gear, but it doesn’t mean you’re above the law. No texting and driving, please. If you see a traffic jam forming behind you, find a safe spot to let others pass.
• Stay visible day and night — Being seen is your secret weapon for road safety. Take regular breaks to check your lights, reflectors, SMV signs, and give your equipment a once-over. A well-lit tractor is a happy tractor.
• Stay in touch — Keep the communication lines open. Let someone know where you’re headed, and check in regularly. Safety is a team effort.
• Get your rest — Easier said than done, I get it. But there is no farm without you. So take care of yourselves.
Rules for other drivers
• Embrace patience –Harvest season is a busy time, and our farming friends are working hard to provide for us all. Show some patience, and remember the importance of their work.
• Stay focused –As you drive those scenic rural roads, resist the urge to multitask. Enjoy the view, but keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.
• Keep your distance — Farm equipment can have some tricky blind spots, so give them some space. No tailgating, please. And be aware of their speed limits. If you can’t see the equipment operator, they can’t see you.
• Decipher the signs — Get to know those Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) and Speed Identification Symbol (SIS) signs. If you spot an SIS sign, the number on it tells you the maximum speed for that equipment. Respect it.
• Pass with care: Only overtake farm equipment when it’s safe, and the operator signals you to do so. Soft road edges and hefty machines make passing a challenge. And be extra cautious when they’re near farm fields because they might turn suddenly.
• Respect the mailboxes: Never pass farm equipment if you see mailboxes up ahead. Operators may have to cross the yellow line to avoid them.
In the end, it’s all about safety and respect on rural roads. A small act of kindness or patience can make a difference during harvest season. Let’s ensure that every trip on our rural roads is a safe and successful one. By working together and following these friendly tips, we can make our roads safer and show our appreciation for the incredible work our farmers do to feed our communities. Here’s to a harvest season filled with success and safe travels.
Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull County Farm Bureaus.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.
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