Our Rural Roots

Common Sense and Courtesy

Move over. I’m pulling out my safety soapbox and stepping up.

I spend a lot of time moving farm equipment from field to field. Our Indiana farm spans two counties, and some fields are 15 to 20 miles from the home farm. We traverse county roads, state roads and U.S. highways. Yes, we even negotiate stoplights.

After all these years, my palms can still get sweaty in these situations. As farmers, we just can’t afford to underestimate other drivers.

You know the types:

The Weaver. He is the car that is positive I don’t know he is back there. He weaves from side to side like a NASCAR driver warming up tires for the big race.

The Stunned. She’s driving directly at you and suddenly realizes just how big the equipment is and freezes--stopping right in the middle of the lane without moving and just stares at you like a deer in headlights.

The Insane. This is the guy (or gal) who is in the back of the line with a couple of cars between his car and the tractor. He doesn’t weave or think twice--just guns it and flies around cars, equipment and tractor.

It’s easy to point fingers and blame, but as farmers moving monster machines around, we need to both drive defensively and use some street smarts. Here are some things to think about:

> Consider the time of day. Try to avoid moving during high-traffic hours and at night.

> Know your blind spots. A lot of equipment is long, and drivers tend to tailgate.

> Pick pull over spots carefully. Watch for drop-offs, mailboxes and telephone poles. Open fields or wide driveways are preferable, but consider the driver’s passing zone and avoid unsafe hills or curves.

> Slow may be safest. Making others wait isn’t all bad. Avoid the urge to rush and keep a safe speed.

> When trouble arises, stop and assess. Get off the road as far as you can. Stop and let traffic sort itself out.

> Spread the word. Sharing just a few words about the need to see tractors and combines with the local school driver’s education class or at church or through a letter to the local newspaper might save someone’s life--or your own.

When not encountering confused drivers, Jent Campbell writes a blog called Farm Wife Feeds (farmwifefeeds.com). Follow her on Twitter @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag.


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