One of the great things about living in Delaware County is the beautiful rural scenery that mixes in with the urban development. Something to keep in mind when enjoying the agricultural landscape this time of year is the increased amount of machinery and equipment frequenting the roadways due to the harvest season. Practicing patience and understanding the rules of the road is a shared responsibility by both everyday motorists and farm equipment operators. This is not only the law in most cases, it can save lives.
The characteristic orange triangle, or slow-moving vehicle emblem, is the first sign that farm machinery is in front of you and is most likely moving at a slower speed than the average motorist. This emblem was developed at The Ohio State University (OSU) and is required by Ohio law. There are specific requirements about this emblem and its placement; these specifications can be found on the Agricultural Safety portion of OSU’s website at https://agsafety.osu.edu/smv-emblem.
Farm machinery is exempt from width, height and length requirements when it is being moved on the roadways. It is important to not only be aware of what is directly in front of you, but also what is potentially coming at you as it may be wider than a single lane of road. No matter what, safety and preventing accidents should be everyone’s top priority.
Farmers should use warning flashers, flags and reflective tape as much as possible and try to avoid roadway travel before dawn and after dusk if possible. If not possible, make sure that headlights are working properly and are visible. Knowing equipment size and being familiar with the route is also an important factor for farmers to be aware of soft shoulders, narrow bridges and low power lines.
Motorists can do their part by staying alert and remaining patient. Farm equipment cannot always ride in the shoulder when there are mailboxes, soft ground or steep ditches to consider, and they are not required to move off of the road for traffic to go around them. Often times, grain trucks and large equipment cannot stop as easily or as quickly as a smaller vehicle, which should also be at the attention of everyday motorists.
As more crops become ready for harvest, and more farm equipment takes to the roads, it is important to reduce stressful and potentially dangerous situations whenever possible. Practice caution and patience this harvest season and help make the roads a better place for all travelers.
For more information on sharing the roadways with agricultural equipment, contact the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District by visiting our website at SoilAndWater.co.delaware.oh.us or call us at 740-368-1921.
Sarah Kidd is the communications & outreach coordinator at the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.