Drivers are asked to be patient during this busy growing season. Even if you have to slow down to 25 mph and follow a tractor for two miles, it’s only like waiting for an extra stoplight.
Each year, spring brings an increased number of tractors and other farm equipment to roadways across the state. It also brings a higher number of accidents that can often be preventable. Initiated by the Maryland Soybean Board and supported by the United Soybean Board and soybean organizations nationwide, the “Find Me Driving” safety initiative for consumer motorists continues to broaden and reinforce the importance of safe driving as farmers begin their planting season.
“The timing of the Find Me Driving safety campaign is perfect as we anticipate the celebration of National Ag Week, and National Ag Day on March 23, highlighting this year’s theme, ‘Food Brings Everyone to the Table,’” said Belinda Burrier, Maryland Soybean Board chair and USB executive committee member. “These two events remind consumers about the importance of what farmers do to feed the world, and the growing need to share the road with all farmers who are legally allowed to be there.”
The Find Me Driving website offers a list of driving tips to help motorists be more aware and react appropriately when encountering SMVs — whether those vehicles are construction, service or farm related. Even the campaign’s mascot, SAM, patterned after the high-reflective triangular emblem mounted on slow-moving equipment, is an acronym for “Slow down, Assess your surroundings and Move with caution.”
Five tips to keep in mind when encountering a SMV include the following:
- Slow down when you see a SMV sign. This is a warning that the slow moving vehicle is traveling under 25 mph.
- Increase your following distance. If you are driving 55 mph and come upon a SMV that is moving 25 mph, it only takes 8 seconds to close a gap the length of a football field between you and the tractor.
- Watch for turn signals and/or decreasing speed indicating a turn. Large wide equipment, including tractors pulling planters, often move to the right just before making a left turn so do not assume it will turn right or is letting you pass.
- Don’t assume that the farmer can immediately move aside. Roadway shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, and this can cause equipment to tip.
- Pass with caution. Proceed only if you can clearly see ahead of you and the SMV, and that there are no double lines, intersections, curves or hills that block view of oncoming traffic.
Motorists are encouraged to use the online campaign resources that include flyers, posters, additional safety tips and these videos.
- Farm Safety Video (Video)
- Online Course – Chapter 7: Slow Moving Vehicles — (Video)
- Slow Moving Vehicle Sign PSA — (Video)
“These helpful resources are available for everyone to learn what to look for on rural roads and how to safely navigate roads in our region,” concluded Burrier. “As farm planting season ramps up, drivers need to be reminded to increase awareness to help prevent accidents.”