It’s National Farm Safety and Health Week. In a proclamation earlier this month, President Barack Obama hopes the gesture is not an empty one.
“Millions of farmers and their families face a variety of unsafe conditions when they wake up for work each morning. Extreme weather, and exposure to livestock or hazardous chemicals can pose threats to their safety,” he says. “Much of their work takes place in dangerous environments and with potentially harmful equipment, such as wells, silos, and grain bins. And putting in long hours of physical labor can also cause illness or injury.”
During harvest, more farm equipment gets transported on U.S. roadways than any other time of year. That highlights the need to continue to prioritize safety – especially in light of the fact that farm equipment vehicles (excluding trucks) are involved in 93 fatal crashes annually.
In Indiana, several groups, including the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the state’s Department of Transportation, have teamed up for a “Be Alert, Slow Down, Share the Road” awareness campaign. The campaign is promoting the following six safety tips for motorists and urges farmers to share the same information with their communities.
1. “Farmers on roadways are going to or from work, just like many other people on the road.” It’s important to share the road.
2. Farmers are usually willing to pull over and let motorists pass, but be patient because it might take time to get to a safe place to do so.
3. Some farm equipment is wide enough to take up most of the roadway. That makes it especially important to be careful and slow down when passing.
4. Heed the red triangle on the back of farm equipment. It indicates the vehicle will be traveling as slow as 25 mph or less.
5. Be especially careful to make sure a slow-moving vehicle is not planning a left turn when you pass it.
6. Honor all designated no-passing zones on roadways, or within 100 feet of intersections, railroad crossings, bridges or tunnels.
For more information on Indiana’s harvest safety campaign, visit www.in.gov/isda/3433.htm.