With catchy graphics and video driving examples, a first of its kind driver education unit has been developed to learn about driving near and around slow-moving vehicles. The six-minute video lesson with teacher guide offers an easy-to-use tool for driver education classes – or home use – to cover a critical topic that needs attention.
“Knowing how to drive near slow moving vehicles is such an essential part of traveling in rural and commuter areas,” commented Belinda Burrier, soybean farmer and Chair of the United Soybean Board Communications and Promotions Committee. “We were surprised to discover that slow-moving vehicle education is not part of many state driver education curriculums.”
Findings from the Maryland Rural Road Safety Study showed that the majority of farm vehicle crashes were rear-end incidents involving two moving vehicles on two-way, undivided roads. Over 75% of crashes occurred during daylight hours and over 72% occurred in clear weather. And the number of crashes is growing every year.
The issue is particularly crucial for young drivers. According to a new study published by the Governors Highway Safety Association, drivers ages 15-24 make up over 22% of rural road fatal crashes, the highest number for any age group.
“We had many farmers report of incidents where they had to drive off the road to avoid a vehicle trying to unsafely pass them with oncoming traffic headed their way,” commented Burrier. “This persuaded the Maryland Soybean Board to launch a road safety education campaign applicable nationwide to improve safety on roads for our farmers and our neighbors in the community.”
The “Find Me Driving” road safety awareness campaign, with support from multiple partners, urges motorists to understand slow moving vehicles (SMVs) and how to safely drive near them. The website, social media content, and now driver education unit, offer driving tips to help motorists be more aware on rural and commuter roads and react appropriately when encountering SMVs — whether those vehicles are construction, service or farm related. Even the campaign’s mascot, SAM, patterned after the orange, triangular SMV emblem mounted on slow-moving vehicles, is an acronym for “Slow down, Assess your surroundings, and Move with caution.”
“The Maryland Highway Safety Office was quick to support the campaign,” noted Burrier. “They have been instrumental partners in creating the driver education unit as well as digital ads, billboards and viral commercials, illustrating the interest of drivers.”
Education for farmers to know how to best prevent crashes is also part of the solution. The campaign offers safety checklist posters, window clings and “Tailgate Talks” videos to cover the primary points for SMV drivers.
“Large equipment adds hazards to any thoroughfare as farmers drive to outlying fields or transport products to market or processing facilities,” said Craig Giese, Virginia Soybean Board Chairman. “We urge all drivers of SMVs to make sure they are doing all they can to be seen, be courteous to other motorists and, as much as possible, avoid roads and highways when consumer traffic is heaviest.”
The www.FindMeDriving.com campaign is an opportunity for all motorists to utilize the campaign’s free resources and social content. Share them with your family and farm staff. Distribute them across your community to increase driver awareness for sharing the road with other drivers.
“We also ask for drivers to be patient when coming upon a slow-moving vehicle,” concluded Cory Atkins, checkoff farmer-leader and Delaware soybean farmer. “Even if you have to slow down to 25 mph and follow a combine for two miles, it’s less than three extra minutes – about the same as waiting on a traffic light.”