Slow Moving Vehicles are Focus of New Driver Education Lesson

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 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.”

Going Beyond Compliance to Promote Employees’ Safety and Health

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Best practices to help decrease injuries on your farm.

Beyond compliance, safety training on the farm can be the difference between life and death. Proper training gives workers the awareness and information they need to reduce safety hazards and avoid serious and fatal accidents. Refreshers throughout the year are important, particularly with seasonal work that farm workers may have not done for a year.

Agriculture ranks high as one of the most hazardous of business industries, with farmers and farm workers at a very high risk of fatalities and non-fatal injuries.

According to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 4,764 fatal worker injuries were recorded in the United States in 2020. A worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury in 2020, many of which were attributed to lack of proper safety training.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide training to workers who face hazards at work. Standards regarding farm operations include hazardous materials and required protective equipment. Heat illness, grain handling, tree care, and electrocution are also topics of concern. Stand Up 4 Grain Safety offers training and educational resources through an industry partnership with OSHA.

“A couple of hours for safety training is well worth the time off task,” says John Harrell, Lebanon County farmer/leader and Chair of the Pennsylvania Soybean Board. “Besides the fact of preventing injury and a potential life of an employee, there is the potential for an incredible amount of money spent on medical bills, insurance premiums, equipment damage, OSHA citations, and lawsuits when an accident occurs.”

Regular, even daily, safety trainings and meetings can be brief, on-the job opportunities to keep employees alert to work-related hazards and prevent injuries. These meetings allow farm managers to remind employees of the dangers of particular processes, materials, and tools. It is also a good time to talk about how to prepare for taking equipment on the road and be ready for facing traffic.

It can be classroom-style with a group or an individual task-by-task talk at the tailgate. Whatever the training approach, keep track of the topics covered and who attended. Training needs may change as employees take on different assignments, which may necessitate further training.

“This also applies to family members working on the farm,” said Harrell. “Agriculture is the top industry for including family in the workforce, and while they may have watched and learned from experience, it is just as important that they be included in a formal training program.”

Required training is the first step. But taking it beyond physical compliance to promote mental health is an important second step. Understanding that stress is a natural component of farm work provides the basis for including methods to not only cope, but successfully operate in the situation.

Here are six basics to help manage stress:

  • Encourage hydration. The benefits of hydration cannot be overemphasized. Staying hydrated delivers nutrients to cells, lubricates joints, regulates body temperature, and keeps organs functioning. Being well-hydrated also improves attitude and conceptual understanding.
  • Count to 10. It sounds simple, but deep breathing is very effective and can be done anytime anywhere. Adding deep breaths to the “Count to 10” can help calm the brain and the rest of the body.
  • Offer healthy snacks. An easy-to-pick pantry loaded with vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dietary fiber can help provide daily nutrition to give workers the fuel to finish the task at hand.
  • Plan breaks. Regular breaks throughout the day will provide a time for employees to address mental and physical fatigue and heat stress, have a snack, and rejuvenate to return stronger and likely more effective back on the job.
  • Talk with others. There’s power in knowing that they are not alone. Encourage employees to ask questions about assignments and offer suggestions to make the task easier. Connecting with others may offer new insight and solutions.
  • Promote exercise. Adrenaline and cortisol are produced when stressed, and any level of exercise can help use those hormones, also creating endorphins to combat stress.

Resources abound for farmers to promote safety. A national database is made available to farmers by the soy checkoff at

“Road safety is a growing issue of concern,” commented Harrell. “Managers can find information on the Find Me Driving website to share with workers who will be driving the farm’s large equipment.”

State focused guides and tools can also be found through local state university extension programs.

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Checkoff Investments for Road Safety

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the road, heading to the farm market or taking a load of soybeans to the elevator, and you hit a pothole and throw off your alignment or kick up some gravel and chip your windshield.

Farmers’ soybeans are working to help solve those problems.


Water, as well as de-icers, salt and chemicals, can get into concrete pores and subsequently cause cracks, chips, gouges and potholes. Once the network of concrete pores is compromised, the strength of the concrete crumbles.

Seeking to address cracking, a new product featuring U.S. soy has hit the pavement, beginning in Indiana.

PoreShield is a soy-based concrete durability enhancer that lengthens the life span of roads and bridges by protecting the pores in concrete from damage caused by salt, ice and water. The product, developed from a soy checkoff research collaboration, reduces maintenance costs for U.S. infrastructure — and because the formula uses soy, it supports demand for U.S. soybeans, too.

The soy checkoff partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development for soy-based solutions in infrastructure. Now, select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use the new soy-based durability enhancer on their bridges — made possible through farmers’ soy checkoff investment.

Last year, Indiana Public Works applied PoreShield to 330,000 square feet on 77 bridge decks within the state, with goals to expand use in the future. As more locations adopt PoreShield as a solution, the demand for soybeans grows. On average, 200 bushels of soybeans are used for every two-lane mile of concrete highway joint treated with PoreShield.

A recent study from AAA shows that over the past five years, around 16 million drivers across the U.S. have suffered damage from a pothole. The checkoff program is working to decrease that number and make your roadways safer.

Rolling Down the Road with Goodyear®

Just as concrete is made better with PoreShield, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is increasing performance and sustainability in their tires with U.S. soy.

The checkoff has regularly collaborated with Goodyear over the last decade to learn how to include soybean oil into rubber technology and has made exciting discoveries that lead to including U.S. soy in their tires.

The company’s initial research discovered that soybean oil could not only improve tire flexibility across temperatures but also provide enhanced grip on road surfaces, making it an ideal choice for Goodyear’s all-weather tire line. Goodyear released their Assurance® WeatherReady® consumer tire line in 2017, the Eagle® Enforcer All Weather™ in 2018 and the Eagle Exhilarate™ in 2019, and announced the Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive™ last year.

With added grip on road surfaces and increased flexibility, the checkoff and Goodyear’s collaboration has not only increased sustainability and performance, but also added options for road safety.

Dust Suppressant

There may be millions of miles of paved roads in the U.S., but there are also 1.3 million miles of unpaved roads. And U.S. soy has taken on that opportunity.

After a farmer sells a load of soybeans, one-half of one percent of the sale is paid into the soy checkoff. You can find the results of that investment on the drive home as soybeans are going to work on paved roads, bridges and even gravel roads.

Dust created by vehicles traveling on these roads equates to about one ton of lost gravel per vehicle per year. Maintenance is a major budget item. In North Dakota, about 66% of local roadway budgets are spent on the state’s 60,000 miles of gravel roads. A single piece of equipment used to blade these roads costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A new soy-based dust suppressant is now available, offering a sustainable choice for communities to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock and crops. All thanks to U.S. soybeans.

Not only does this mean less dust, equating to better economic value in gravel preservation, but it also means opportunity for safer roadways and potentially fewer car accidents because of better visibility.

Road safety starts with what’s under your tires, and the soy checkoff is committed to research and investments to maintain road standards and safety while increasing demand for this renewable and sustainable crop. This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple organizations in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

Have a Chat About Safety: Tips to Talk to Your Neighbor About How to Share the Roadways Safely

Sometimes taking your farm equipment on the road is unavoidable, and many farmers may encounter drivers not familiar with sharing the road with farm equipment. While it may be easy to get flustered, it’s important to remain calm and remember that we’re all just trying to get somewhere as safely as we can.

The key to confidence for you and your neighbors on the roadway can start with a conversation. Pop by to chat or give them a phone call to let them know you’ll be moving equipment on the road, and share some tips to make you both feel safe.

  1. Let them know your busy times of year

While spring and fall might seem like second nature to farmers, neighbors and other members of the community might not recognize those times as planting and harvest.

“We always try to explain what we’re doing and break it down so it’s easy for our non-farming neighbors to understand, especially if we’re stopping traffic so we can get through an intersection or something like that,” he says. says Ralph Lott, II, New York soybean farmer and soy checkoff farmer-leader.

“Here in the Finger Lakes region, we see a lot of visitors during the fall when the leaves start to change and people start to visit the local wineries,” says Lott.

In 2018, the Finger Lakes region saw 5.56 million visitors, staying an average 3.4 days and 2.4 nights according to the Ithaca Times.

Lott says the increased travel and number of motorists on the road don’t go unnoticed, but after decades of farming in the region under his belt, he knows how to handle it.

“We’ve been farming here for 40 years, so we’ve grown with the traffic. Most of our local neighbors know what we’re doing, but tourists sometimes don’t understand.”

  1. Share some passing techniques

It’s not shocking that farm equipment goes slower than the average passenger vehicle, causing potential frustration to motorists stuck behind the equipment.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that agriculture, forestry and fishing as an occupational group have the third highest rate of work-related roadway crashes.

“We don’t worry about oncoming traffic so much as the people behind us that are tired of following and try to pass us just about the time we want to pull over to make a wide turn into a narrow farm driveway,” Lott says.

A study by New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health identified 203 agriculture-related vehicle crashes involving 381 vehicles and 482 people. Of those incidents, 91.6% caused property damage, while 36.0% caused injury. The fatality rate for roadway vehicle crashes was nearly five times as great for agriculture versus non-agriculture crashes.

“To the people that are following us, I always tell them to look at the driver in the tractor cab. A lot of times, we’ll point if we need to make a left turn or give a signal for what we’re about to do,” Lott adds.

Find Me Driving, a road education resource, encourages drivers to think “SAM” when they encounter a slow moving vehicle. The site shares safety tips you can use to chat with your fellow drivers:

  • Find the sign. The orange triangular Slow Moving Vehicle sign warns drivers of a vehicle traveling under 25 mph. The sign is exclusively for SMV vehicles and acts as a warning for motorists to to slow down. 
  • Slow down. Rear-end collisions are the number one cause of farm vehicle crashes. When a driver sees a SMV, they should slow down immediately and increase following distance. If a driver is driving 55 mph and comes upon a SMV moving at 25 mph, it only takes 8 seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.
  • Assess your surroundings. SMV operators often pull equipment behind them, which could impact their visibility. It’s important for motorists to remain vigilant of farm driveways, field roads and other places a SMV driver might be ready to turn into.
  • Move with caution. SMVs are typically large and can be difficult to see around. Keep to the basics: Pass only if you can clearly see ahead of both you and the SMV. Check to see if the SMV’s turn signal is on or if the vehicle slows down before passing. Don’t pass in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad crossing or tunnel, or if there are curves or hills ahead that may block your view.

“I encourage people to pause and think before passing. Maybe you’ll gain an extra 30 seconds getting to wherever you’re going, but it’s just not worth the risk,” Lott says. “We’ve all got a job to do out here, and getting someplace a few minutes earlier isn’t worth the risk for any of us.”

  1. Explain hand signals

While hand signals might be thought of as a thing of the past, there are farmers who find that they can be helpful to tell your fellow motorists what you’re about to do next — as long as they understand.

“We still use hand signals when we’re driving tractors,” Lott says. “I’ll stick my left arm out to let the traffic know I’m going to make a left turn because if I’m about to cross the road, I really need the people behind me to know.”

A straight-armed gesture to the left indicates a left turn. A right-angled gesture pointing  up indicates a right turn, while pointing down indicates driver is stopping. These are a few easy things to explain and demonstrate to your neighbors, giving them a heads-up on the road.

Taking farm equipment on the road all boils down to confidence for everyone involved — confidence behind the wheel and confidence sharing these tips with your neighbors.

“You need to feel confident when you’re driving down the road and talking to your neighbors or visitors,” says Lott. “Everyone just needs to be thoughtful, and we’ll all get to where we’re going.”

This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple organizations in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

Insurance on the Farm: Tips for Decreasing Costs with Safe Driving

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Tractors, planters and combines might not have much in common with sedans, coupes and convertibles. But in the glove box, there’s proof of one thing in common: insurance.

“You have to protect your farm at all costs, and insurance is key to help you do that,” says Daniel Berglund, chairman of the Texas Soybean Board and Texas soybean farmer.

Covering your farm and assets like equipment can be a costly line item in your budget, but it’s a necessity on the farm. The Maryland Rural Road Study reported that farm vehicle crashes in the U.S. carried a cost of more than $4.3 billion in 2017, with losses ranging from $10,000 to over $30,000 per incident. Fortunately, there are ways to help maximize your insurance investment and even decrease your cost.

“Your equipment is going to fall under your property coverage, and it falls into basically two parts,” says Kara Argetsinger, a property and liability insurance specialist with Agri-Services Agency. “Liability can protect you in case of accident or injury to others, and then you have your property coverage that covers the actual cash value of insured equipment for the farm in case of damage.”

On the Road

Moving equipment within one property is one thing, but moving your equipment between fields or farms, and sharing roads with other drivers, is a whole other story.

“This spring, we were moving our 11-row soybean planter. It doesn’t fold up like some bigger equipment, so we have a pilot car lead due to some tight turns and guardrails right on the side of the road,” says Berglund. “When I’m the pilot, I try to block traffic where I need to so whoever is driving the tractor can stay alert to what they need to focus on instead of traffic. It’s a whole different ballgame.”

Argetsinger says your farm liability coverage really comes into play when you hit the road with your equipment, and auto liability applies when you are driving your vehicles.

“Auto liability covers you in case of bodily injury or property damage to others in a motor vehicle accident. Your liability is going to cover damage that was caused to another party, and the property portion of your coverage is going to cover the damage to repair or replace your insured equipment,” she says.

Insurance Options with Safe Driving

While insurance is a necessary investment, Argetsinger says there are a few ways farmers can help lower their costs.

One of the options is checking if credits are available for your vehicles.

“Vehicles that you don’t use every day or maybe use every other day may qualify for credits because you don’t have the same exposure as the pickup truck that you drive every day,” she says.

Another option is to keep motor vehicle records on all your farm vehicle drivers. MVRs show that your drivers are capable and competent, and understand the risk in driving vehicles and equipment on the road, says Argetsinger.

“Your drivers are representing you, and you want to make sure that you have people who are capable of driving and understand the risk associated with driving your vehicles,” she says. “It’s just an incredibly helpful thing to do for yourself and your insurance.”

“Insurance is one of those things you need to have but hope you never have to use,” says Berglund. “It can protect you and your farm.”

This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple Qualified State Soybean Boards in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

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Your Road Safety Checklist: Reminders to Help Keep Safety Top of Mind This Harvest Season

Double=check that reflective materials and SMV signage are displayed and clean

That bright orange triangle on the back of equipment is a familiar sight. It gives farmers a chance to warn the traffic around them that they are moving slowly.

Here’s a real-world scenario that puts in perspective just how quickly moving equipment down the road can become an accident: If a car going 60 miles per hour is driving toward a tractor going 20 miles per hour and is 400 feet away, how long will it take for the car to meet the tractor?

Experts at the Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Program say the answer is only 4.5 seconds.

The slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem must be displayed on equipment traveling 25 mph or less, mounted base down on the rear of the vehicle. If pulling equipment, both the vehicle and the pulled equipment require an emblem displayed. When trailering equipment and traveling at speeds over 25 mph, the SMV emblem should be removed.

“Delaware is seeing a boom in housing, which puts more vehicles on the road,” says Cory Atkins, checkoff farmer-leader and Delaware soybean farmer. “When we have to move equipment between fields, we try to have a vehicle with flashers following us.”

Window clings for cabs show quick safety checklist to follow before driving your SMV on the road. These are available complimentary from the resources tab.

Be visible

It’s easy for drivers to grow impatient with you driving your combine or tractor down the road — and you with them. Just like the frustration goes both ways, so does the responsibility to make safe driving choices. Below are some tips on what you can do to make it home safely this harvest season.

When you’re ready to get your day started, you pour your first cup of hot, black coffee, pull on your work boots and grab your favorite ragged ball cap — it may be hard to pause and check something else off your to-do list. But testing your lights before you hit the road, especially this time of year as the sun sets earlier, can mean the difference between a safe drive and a dangerous situation. 

“Before we hit the road, we do a pre-check to make sure all our lights are working and slow moving vehicle emblems are clean,” commented Craig Biese, checkoff farmer-leader from Virginia. “Being proactive with safety measures is the first step in coming home safely at night.”

While vehicle codes vary from state to state, the U.S. Department of Transportation adopted the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Standard 279.14 for agricultural equipment, which requires tractors and self-propelled equipment to follow minimum lighting standards:

  • Two white head lamps mounted at the same height and spaced as wide apart as possible on the front of the vehicle.
  • Two red tail lamps mounted at the same height and spaced as wide apart as possible on the rear of the vehicle.
  • Two amber flashing warning lamps visible from both front and rear, symmetrically placed and as widely spaced as possible.
  • One white or amber lamp on the farthest left side of the vehicle or towed implement.

Also on the checklist before hitting the road are adjusting mirrors for clear views, locking brake pedals together, and checking tires so that they are at maximum approved inflation with wheel fasteners tight.

“We run all the needed lights and flags on our equipment when we hit the road,” says Belinda Burrier, Maryland farmer-leader and soybean grower. “We don’t leave the farm without those things.”

Make sure road conditions are clear             

Who hasn’t headed to work and been delayed by road maintenance closing one lane of traffic? With farm equipment often wider than the average road lane, this can cause major delays and difficulty getting to the field. Before you move farm equipment, be sure to check your route and decide if an alternate path or time of travel would be better to keep you moving.

  • Check the traffic report
  • Avoid road construction and maintenance
  • Know the width of the roadways with fencing and guardrails
  • Check for height clearance of trees and bridges, particularly if transporting equipment on a trailer
  • Drive with a charged cell phone and full fuel tank, especially during inclement weather
  • Check for height clearance of power lines, trees and bridges, particularly if transporting equipment on a trailer
Safety posters and banners are available for your office, shop or classroom. Order your complimentary copies from the resources tab.

Stay alert and don’t drive while tired

Everyone has been there. It’s harvest time. The days are shorter, you need to take one more load to the elevator or get the combine into the shed. But you’re so tired.

Harvest season means juggling many issues during long days and it is easy to be distracted and tired. The Maryland Rural Road Safety Study found distracted driving to be the leading cause of farm equipment collisions.  

In addition, research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol does. For example, studies by the CDC have shown being awake for at least 18 hours has the same negative effects as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Driving farm equipment or heavy machinery only adds risk.

Long hours involved in a repetitive task, such as driving a combine down a long field, can be very fatiguing, according to the National Ag Safety Database. NASD encourages farmers to rest when they are tired. Stopping for 10 to 15 minutes every two to two-and-a-half hours can help quell the drowsiness.

“Let’s all think about safety first and getting home to our families,” says Burrier.

This safety education program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple organizations in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

Spring into Action and Be Seen

All farm equipment should have flashing lights, reflective tape, and the slow moving vehicle emblem.

With farm accidents on the rise, being seen is critical to avoiding rural farm crashes.

Spring brings planting season for farmers across the country. That means more tractors pulling planters and other farm equipment down highways and roads across the state. That also means increased potential for farm-equipment-related accidents between motorists and those farmers.

“We encourage farmers to avoid high traffic times, busy roads, and most of all, have equipment well marked,” says Belinda Burrier, Maryland Soybean Board Chair. “All farm equipment should have flashing lights, reflective tape, and the slow moving vehicle emblem.” 

The federal Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act requires all agricultural implements manufactured after 2017 to be equipped with roadway lighting and marked in accordance with current American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers standards. The federal law also requires turn signals and amber marking lights.

“Reflective tape and new LED lights not requiring electrical power make it simpler to bring older equipment up to current lighting and marking standards,” continued Burrier. “With farm accidents on the rise, being seen is critical to avoiding rural farm crashes.”

The slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem is required on all vehicles traveling no more than 25 mph. For towed equipment, the emblem must be on both the towed attachment as well as the towing vehicle. This orange, fluorescent triangle was invented in 1963 in response to research showing that over half of the highway fatalities involving farm equipment were rear-end collisions. Interestingly, the emblem’s unique shape occurred as creators tested multiple designs. The triangle ends would catch and rip researchers’ clothing, so the corners were removed from the triangle to create the unique shape of the SMV emblem.

The emblem is gaining new attention as the mascot for the campaign, supported by soybean checkoff programs across the country. Through the acronym name of SAM, the mascot reminds drivers to Slow down, Assess their surroundings, and Move with caution, when driving near SMVs. The site also offers road safety tips, equipment requirements and resources for SMV drivers.

“We encourage farmers to make it a habit to check that all lights are in working order and the SMV emblem is bright and in place before driving on roads,” commented Cory Atkins, Chair of the Delaware Soybean Board. “Your safety, the safety of your equipment, and the neighbor driving on the road are at risk. Let’s do all we can to be seen and avoid a costly accident.”


Five Tips for Motorists to Stay Safe this Growing Season

This proactive safety campaign offers tips, advice and warnings that could save lives.

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:

  1. Slow down when you see a SMV sign. This is a warning that the slow moving vehicle is traveling under 25 mph.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.” 


Road Safety Campaign Highlights Awareness of Farm Equipment Drivers for Motorists

Vehicle crashes with farm equipment are on the rise.

Motorists can help reduce these numbers.

Soybean organizations across the country, along with the United Soybean Board, are partnering together in the “Find Me Driving” road safety campaign to raise motorists’ awareness of farm equipment drivers on the roads this spring.

“As rural accidents are increasing in number with greater physical and economic losses, the Maryland Soybean Board (MSB) proactively identified farm vehicle road safety awareness as a priority,” commented Belinda Burrier, United Soybean Board Director and MSB Chair. “We are delighted that our fellow soybean organizations are joining in this safety initiative.”

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 30 percent of the total vehicle miles traveled in 2017 were in rural areas, yet 46 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017 occurred in rural areas. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the United States was 2.1 times higher in rural areas than urban areas. Every state reported a higher percent or rural area fatalities than urban areas.

The Find Me Driving campaign will help increase state motorists’ awareness of farmers on roadways. These resources are available for everyone to use to learn about what to look for on rural roads and how to prepare for safely navigating rural roads. As farm planting season activity increases, drivers can increase awareness to help prevent accidents.

Online Find Me Driving campaign resources feature SAM, the campaign’s mascot, whose name means ‘Slow down, Assess your surroundings, Move with caution’ and resembles the high-reflectance slow-moving-vehicle triangle emblem required on all vehicles traveling under 25 mph.

Visitors to the site can find tips about how to safely drive when encountering farm equipment and encourages motorists to look for the bright orange triangle on tractors, combines, maintenance trucks and other large, slow-moving vehicles. Resources include lighting and marking guidelines for farm equipment, as well as tips when driving slow-moving vehicles in traffic.

“In the spring, farmers are planting crops using large, slow-moving machinery that sometimes needs to be on roads with fast-moving cars and trucks,” Burrier said. “This increases the chances our motorists will encounter farm vehicles and equipment on public roads. We want drivers to be prepared and arrive home safe.”

SAM Wins Naming Contest

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Many thanks to all who participated from across the country in my naming contest.

Selected for its relevance to slow moving vehicles, creativity, and ease of use in broad applications, Grasso captured it all with her entry.

With more than 90 entries coming in from across the country, Marylander Natalie Grasso came up with the winning name for the character naming contest. “SAM” is the face of the new road safety campaign initiated by the Maryland Soybean Board (MSB). Research funded by the Board showed that driver education on how to drive near slow moving vehicles (SMV), such as combines, tractors, buggies and wagons, could help decrease accidents on roads.

“Our committee had a lot of creative options to consider with entries from Washington state to Louisiana,” commented Belinda Burrier, farmer from Frederick County and MSB Chair. “We were delighted to see such a strong response to the contest and hope to see the enthusiasm continue for the education campaign.”

“When I read about the naming contest, I wanted to come up with something that was ‘catchy,’ that would be easy to remember and that would be associated with the slow moving vehicle (SMV) character/emblem,” Grasso said. “I noticed that the corners were cut off on the triangle body of the character/emblem, so I came up with the slogan: Don’t Cut Corners, Follow SAM!

S = Slow Down

A = Assess your Surroundings

M = Move with Caution.” 

Grasso has a familiarity with transportation topics, working in the Office of Information Resources at the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA). “The Maryland Highway Safety Office falls under MDOT MVA, so safety is a huge part of what we do here and what we hear about on a daily basis.” 

The Maryland Soybean Board is partnering with the MVA to help reach the goal of zero deaths and injuries on Maryland roads. Driver tips for driving near SMVs are available at The site also features tips for drivers of SMVs, to be proactive drivers and help avoid accidents. Further educational programming is underway.

“We welcome anyone to join us in this education effort,” concluded Burrier. “Together we can decrease road accidents and make all of our drives safer.”

About Maryland Soybean Board: The Maryland Soybean Board is funded by the national soybean checkoff program, which assesses one-half of one percent of the net market value of soybeans at the first point of sale. The board consists of ten volunteer farmer-directors and directs funds for research, marketing and education programs to benefit the Maryland soybean industry. The Maryland Rural Roads Safety Study is available at


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